Q&A: Embrace Your Legacy’s Barbara Shaiman

The Bala Cynwyd resident shares her inspiration and some of her favorite things to do.

After founding Bala Cynwyd nonprofit Champions of Caring in 1995, Barbara Shaiman spent 20 years teaching young people never to be silent or indifferent in the face of bullying or violence. Recently, she has shifted focus to her newest endeavor, Embrace Your Legacy, where she helps people cultivate their passions.

Barbara Shaiman

1. This Is Us, House of Cards, The Crown and Transparent. “I know, it sounds like I’m a TV junkie.”

2. Main Line Chamber of Commerce events. “I love what they do for the Society of Professional Women.”

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3. Summer Olympics. “I love the gymnastics, because my body could never do that or get into those positions.”

4. AFC Fitness in Bala Cynwyd. “I like water aerobics, but anything in the water is my favorite.” 

5. Alicia Keys and Andrea Bocelli. “I’m very eclectic.”


MLT: Why did you start Embrace Your Legacy?

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BS: I’m the daughter of Holocaust survivors. My mother was the sole survivor of a family of 65 people and my father worked for Oscar Schindler. I started Champions of Caring 22 years ago because I felt it was important to teach young people in middle and high school to never be silent and indifferent in the face of bullying or hatred or violence. I realized that what I was doing with youth was also very important to do with Millennials, with Gen X, and with Baby Boomers. I started Embrace Your Legacy because I felt that people need meaning and purpose in their lives no matter how old or young they are. I wanted to help people understand how they can take what they’re interested in and passionate about and create social change. 

MLT: Why did you write your two books?

BS: I wrote a book called Live Your Legacy Now: 10 Simple Steps to Find Your Passion and Change the World. It was initially an ethical will for my children and grandchildren. An ethical will is not a binding document, but it really shares your values and what you care about and exposes your soul to those who read it. I wanted my family to understand what was important to me, what I cared about, how I led my life and what I wanted them to remember about me. As I was writing, my husband said to me, “This is bigger than our family; why don’t you write a book?” I wrote a second book called Live Your Legacy Now Portfolio, which has all kinds of activities and strategies to really help people look at their core values and how they want to implement social change and become more philanthropic. 

MLT: What is the most rewarding part of your work?

BS: The people. Being able to meet people, having them share their own vision for social change and seeing the excitement when they have that a-ha moment. When that moment happens for someone, that’s my greatest joy—when people are inspired to action. 

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!