If you want to have a conversation with Barbara Sirvis, you better bring your walking shoes. She logs more than 1,200 miles a year—half of them between Memorial Day and September—preparing for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, a 26.2-mile cancer research fundraiser benefitting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. With eight walks behind her, she is now a 5-star fundraising pacesetter and has raised more than $66,000 with no plans to stop. But her story isn't just about raising money or getting fit, it's about giving back.
Barb retired in 2006 at the pinnacle of a career that took her from coast to coast as she rose from a special education teacher in California to president of Southern Vermont College, a "private college with a public mission." That mission included giving opportunities to students who have "yet to fulfill their potential," including those with extra financial and academic needs. Barb took great pride in making the college a welcoming place for all with a deep belief in the potential of every individual.
That belief started early. Growing up next door to a child with cerebral palsy led her to study special education in college and work at a camp for people with disabilities. When her mother took her to her first Brownie meeting as a child, she began her journey with the Girl Scouts, an organization dedicated to "building girls of courage, confidence and character," and learned a lot about making the world a better place. Throughout her life she has carried with her a commitment to help people find their strengths and live life to the fullest.