We are grieving the untimely passing of Rachel Meharry. Rachel was a brilliant, warm-hearted, kind, funny, hardworking person who made a tremendous impact on us in the months that we were privileged to work together. Her loss is incalculable for everyone who knew her.
Rachel was our client. She and her colleagues hired us to help her beloved employer, Showing Up for Racial Justice, make the transition to a new CRM. It wasn’t just technical work that we would do over the course of six months. Rachel was committed to a change management process that would take into account the needs of her colleagues to make a significant switch like this.
Her commitment to preparing her colleagues to succeed was a reflection of the love and respect she held for them, and for her desire to bring a transformational change to the organization she loved.
Rachel wowed us from the very first. Her experience, intelligence, professionalism, and desire to learn was evident and was something she brought to every interaction she had with us and with others. Any intense project brings with it the opportunity to create deep bonds and connections by virtue of a lot of time spent together. The project was a crucible in which we forged mutual respect and friendship.
Rachel brought her entire self to her role because she believed deeply in SURJ’s mission. When she asked you how you were doing, she wanted to hear the honest answer. She was gracious enough to share with us the story of how she became inspired to get involved in the movement for racial justice and how her passion for antiracism motivated her to apply for a job at SURJ.
When the going got tough in the project, Rachel did not give up. If a deep dive into data was needed, Rachel was the first to raise her hand. She loved to learn, and was delighted by figuring out how to do cool things with the new CRM. For Rachel, the opportunity to learn, create solutions and solve problems was an act of service designed to lift up her colleagues and help make their technical path a little easier.
We bonded with Rachel over the pressures of parenting during covid lockdowns and the challenges of figuring out how to claim space as women while yielding space as white women. We learned from her that leading with your heart, assuming positive intent, and lifting others up is the path that we want to walk.
The world is not always kind to people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Enthusiasm and optimism are hard to maintain when dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Sometimes cynicism and apathy feel like better ways to protect yourself from disappointment. But not Rachel.
Rachel was always enthusiastic and optimistic. She could light up a Zoom room, and we’ve heard that was true in person too. We are glad to have learned that this quality of hers was treasured by her loved ones in her personal life. We are also so glad that her passion and positivity found a professional home at SURJ where it could create change in the world.
While we never got to meet Rachel in person, we often said on our Zooms that when that day came, there were several deferred hugs coming her way. Since we will not be able to deliver those hugs to her, we offer them up virtually and in person to anyone who loved Rachel as we did.
Rachel Meharry was so special. She made our lives better and we were lucky to know her. We offer sincere condolences to those who loved her.