News & Events

Living her Legacy –The Jerusalem Post by Judah Kalman 04/05/2012

December 21st, 2014

Barbara Greenspan Shaiman has made it her life’s work to share her message of hope through humanity learned from the incomparable inhumanity of the Holocaust.

photoBarbara Greenspan Shaiman

Barbara Greenspan Shaiman was born into a perfect storm of tragedy few could comprehend, let alone process healthily.
However, that is not what sets her apart from the millions of other men and women in the world who were born into equally tragic and inauspicious beginnings. What sets Shaiman apart is not where she came from, but where she ended up: An honorable and compassionate destination, achieved by harnessing the profound pain and tragedy she was born into to find a higher calling.

Shaiman, the child of Holocaust survivors, has used her family’s catastrophic legacy to transform her pain into meaning, to get herself – and as many people as possible – to a better, more humane destination.
It is this inexhaustible focus to find meaning in a past devoid of humanity that has distinguished Shaiman, of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, in her pursuit of practicing tikun olam (healing the world).Through her organizations Champions of Caring and Embrace Your Legacy – and her book Live Your Legacy Now!: Ten Simple Steps to Find Your Passion and Change the World – Shaiman has made it her life’s work to share her message of hope through humanity by encouraging adults of all ages and backgrounds to learn from the past and create a better future. “My goal is to empower individuals to become socially responsible leaders and actively engaged citizens to ensure that what happened to my family, the other six million Jews and five million other victims, never happens again,” says Shaiman.

FOUR YEARS prior to Shaiman’s birth in Regensburg, Germany, in 1948, her parents, Henek Greenspan and Carola Iserowski, both emaciated and afflicted with typhus, met at a convalescent center in Theresienstadt outside Prague after their liberation from the living nightmares that had decimated both of their families. Shortly after surviving a series of death marches and incarceration in death camps, including Auschwitz, Birkenau, Stutthof and Theresienstadt, Iserowski learned she was the only survivor of a Polish family that once numbered close to 70. Greenspan, who received a degree of shelter from Oskar Schindler at his Krakow factory (but did not make his famous “list”), also lost the majority of his family to Nazi barbarity. Despite having barely enough strength to function, and suffering enough trauma to incapacitate the most resilient of souls, the two met and fell in love. According to Shaiman, Greenspan approached Iserowski at the center one day after being struck by her beauty. Although robbed of her once beautiful brown locks of hair and weighing no more than 80 pounds, he told her that if she would allow him to, he would gladly take her dancing. Iserowski, in return, replied that if she could find a dress, she would join him. And so began the joining of two broken souls who would desperately try to rebuild their lives.

A FEW years after they emigrated from Germany to New York City, when Shaiman was four years old, Iserowski changed her daughter’s name from Bella to Barbara. Shaiman says her mother wanted her to have an “American” name so that she would not be viewed as a “greenhorn immigrant,” and would fit better in her new country. However, until her recent death, her mother called her Bella. Penniless, unable to speak English and living in difficult conditions in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Shaiman’s father initially found work at a pickle factory in Newark, while her mother gained employment crocheting for a local tailor. Greenspan, who years later went on to earn a successful living in textiles, worked hard to make enough money to send Shaiman and her younger brother to yeshivas and Jewish summer camps to ensure their identity as Jews were firmly rooted. Shaiman went on to attend Hunter College in New York City, marry at the age of 19, raise two children while earning a master’s degree in counseling and education and live throughout the northeastern US, where she began her career as a teacher and later became a successful businesswoman.

IN THE early 1990s, newly divorced after 25 years of marriage, with her children now adults, Shaiman, who had created a highly profitable executive recruitment business, visited Auschwitz and Poland with her family and 100 Holocaust survivors. It was on this trip that she realized she needed to dedicate her life to a higher purpose. “I had an epiphany to create an organization that would inspire young people to stand up and speak out against injustice and become advocates for social change,” she says. Shortly after a chance meeting with and encouragement from Steven Spielberg in 1995, Shaiman created Champions of Caring, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering young people to take active roles in improving their communities. Shaiman utilized the organization – which has since impacted over 10,000 atrisk youths in the greater Philadelphia area – to become social activists by conveying her message and vision of a more humane and compassionate world, based on the tragedy that befell her family as well as genocides that continue to this day. The curriculum Shaiman devised for Champions of Caring reflects the lessons of the Holocaust and has become a prototype to foster constructive social change. Its principles are widely recognized as a model for reducing prejudice and violence, promoting youth leadership and service and helping teachers and administrators in their efforts to create cultures of caring in schools and communities. Since its inception 17 years ago, youths from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds have gone on to identify and address issues such as autism, hunger, homelessness, teen pregnancy, child soldiering in Uganda, land mines in Afghanistan and cyber-bullying, among many others, to improve their local or global communities. In 2007, based on its success in the US, Shaiman expanded Champions of Caring to South Africa.

SHAIMAN’S FAMILY legacy, coupled with her experiences as a teacher and entrepreneur and her success with Champions of Caring, inspired her to in 2010 create her latest enterprise, Embrace Your Legacy and pen Live Your Legacy Now! In her book, she shares her life experiences and the powerful lessons she learned as the daughter of Holocaust survivors. “It’s critical to make ‘living your legacy’ an inter-generational and family affair. It’s not just about passing on money, but rather passing on your values. That’s what’s key,” says Shaiman of her new endeavor’s mission. “You live your legacy by identifying your core values and what you stand for – by finding your humanity and living a life of purpose.” Both Embrace Your Legacy and her book serve as vehicles for Shaiman to continue her mission to make the world a more humane place, one person at a time. Through speeches, workshops and consulting, she shares her transferable 10-step approach to provide participants with the tools necessary to create social change in an informed and creative manner. With workshops tailored for corporations and public and private high school classrooms, to university seminars, faithbased programs and community women’s and men’s groups, Shaiman has presented her message to audiences of all ages and backgrounds – locally, nationally and internationally. “My goal is to encourage organizational cultures to promote caring and compassion,” she says. “History has shown us that we can do many things to overcome the apathy that allows terrible things to happen to our fellow human beings by working together.”

A COMPELLING public speaker, Shaiman has received numerous awards for her work, including the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award, the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Women Making History Award, State Farm Insurance’s Service-Learning Practitioner Award, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Servant of God Award, the Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Mordechai Anielewicz Award and the Daily Points of Light Award. She has also been inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame and named a “Community Quarterback” by the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Parade Magazine. “We can change our lives in ways we may never imagined, and inspire others to do the same. And by enriching someone else’s life you enrich your own,” she says. She has also co-founded a Holocaust consortium of educators in Philadelphia, chaired the women’s division of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and chaired the Holocaust Memorial Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council. When not working on Embrace Your Legacy initiatives, Shaiman says she most enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren. “They remind me every day of the importance of tikun olam and why I do what I do,” she says. In terms of encouraging others who may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of affecting meaningful social change within their own communities, she makes it clear that anyone with enough motivation and vision can indeed make the world a better place. “You don’t have to be rich or famous to live and share a legacy. We can all embrace, enjoy and live our legacies and fill our days with challenge and purpose by sharing what we have learned from our past with others,” she says. “My hope is to inspire people to create a vision of what their life and world can be and have them live and flaunt their humanity.”

Learn more about Barbara Greenspan Shaiman’s organization, Embrace Your Legacy and Champions of Caring, at and

Social Responsibility

December 21st, 2014

Dr. Dan Gottleib interviews Barabara Shaiman and other guest about Social Responsibility on his show Voices in the Family November 24th, 2014. To hear the interview with Barabara fast forward 16:25 into the interview.


What is Your Legacy? From The New Existentialists July 16, 2014

December 21st, 2014

As we grow older and have less time left, there may be

Barabara Shaiman

Barabara Shaiman

a tendency to ask, “What impact have I had?” “What have I contributed to others and future generations?” “What is my legacy?”

Most theorists agree that adult development is ongoing. As we age, a major task is to move beyond concerns of the self and acquire wisdom in order to contribute to others and future generations. In my dissertation research, I asked creative older adults I interviewed, “How important is it for you to leave a legacy or contribute to future generations?” (Robertson, 2005). Surprisingly, many of the participants I interviewed were not concerned with leaving a legacy—even though, in my mind, they would leave bodies of work and had already contributed to present and future generations. Some talked about what they would pass on to children and grandchildren, but most indicated that their time was “now” and they did not expect to be “remembered” for more than one or two generations.

In the book Live Your Legacy Now! Ten Simple Steps to Find Your Passion and Change the World, Barbara Greenspan Shaiman (2009) tells about the “inheritance” she received from her family, how she was inspired to create her legacy, and practical advice for people who want to make the world a better place. She explains that a legacy goes beyond the common conception of leaving a bequest, or funding a hospital wing or university building to preserve one’s memory in the future; it is sharing your “humanity” and is a gift to the present and the future.

Recently, my husband, John and I have been blessed to get to know Barbara. She has become a dear “new” friend—an experience that somehow feels “extra special” as you grow older. We were thrilled when she invited us to attend the 2014 Women’s Achievement Awards, presented by KYW Newsradio 1060, and held on June 25, 2014 at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA. Barbara and four other women from the Philadelphia area were honored for their outstanding achievements.

Barbara’s award was for the legacy she has established and how she helps others to do the same through Embrace your Legacy, which offers programs to create “cultures of caring” for a variety of audiences. Barbara’s approach to creating a legacy is that it does not have to be just for the future—it can be lived now, which is what the title of her book suggests. In addition, creating a legacy does not have to wait until one is an adult. Through Champions of Caring, a non-profit organization Barbara founded in 1995, she developed a program that has empowered more than 10,000 youths in Philadelphia and South Africa to make the world a better place by becoming engaged citizens and leaders of social change.

What makes Live Your Legacy Now so powerful is that the first part of the book tells Barbara’s story of how she became involved with building her legacy and helping others to do the same. Stories can be powerful motivators; if we examine our lives, most of us are able to discuss our heritage and identify events that have shaped who we are. Barbara’s parents—her mother, Carola Iserowshi Greenspan, and her father, Henry Greenspan, were Holocaust survivors. Barbara tells how her parents’ survival, a journey she took with her family and other Holocaust survivors to visit Auschwitz in 1989, and a brief meeting with Steven Spielberg spurred her to create her legacy.

For those who might think, “I have no idea what my legacy could be,” and “I don’t know famous, powerful people who could help me even if I did,” Barbara’s book provides a process to find out and offers very practical advice. She gives step-by-step suggestions of how one can explore their past and identify present values, skills and passions to create a vision for the future that will make the world a better place. Live Your Legacy Now is a reassuring book for those who find the idea of creating a legacy a bit intimidating or grandiose because it helps one to live “on purpose.”

The subject of living your legacy exemplifies key principles of existential-humanistic psychology. A major challenge for individuals and cultures is how to live as fully as we can, despite individual trials and unbelievable horror we may confront. Certainly, the Holocaust is an example of such a horror. Lest we forget, Holocaust museums are stark reminders of how human beings can lose their humanity. In the face of such inhumanity, people such as Barbara’s parents and Viktor Frankl survived, created legacies, and made the world a better place. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy, which stresses the importance of finding (or creating) meaning for existence. He strongly believed in the importance of freedom coupled with responsibility.

While not everyone will have experiences as horrific as the Holocaust, most people can identify problems they would like to address and causes about which they feel passionate. The thoughts expressed in Live Your Legacy Now are very consistent with existential-humanistic psychology, and the tagline of this website: “It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live.” Examining who we are and what we want to contribute “is vital to the transformation of our despairing and violent world.” Creating and living a legacy is a way to break “new ground to humanize the world around us.” What is your legacy? Or, even more important, what is the legacy you choose to live right now?

Frankl, V. (1963). Man’s search for meaning. An introduction to logotherapy. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.

Robertson, C. (2005). Creativity and aging: A grounded theory study of creative older individuals. Retrieved from ProQuest. (AAT 3163295)

Shaiman, B. (2009). Live your legacy now! Ten simple steps to find your passion and change the world. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Champions of Caring
Embrace Your Legacy

— Christina Robertson

Read more stories by Christina Robertson

Read About Us in the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal

August 10th, 2010

Champions of Caring, our youth program, was highlighted in the Summer Edition of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Thank you to Nick, Tine and Amy, Emily, and Alina for sharing our work!

To read the article and view the journal, follow the link below:

Barbara Shaiman honored as an Extraordinary Women

May 3rd, 2010


In March, Barbara was recognized by Society Hill Playhouse and Respect: The Musical for her efforts to promote respect in the community. Photo: Roe DeLuca of Act II Playhouse presents Barbara with her honor. Photo by Julie Miller

View Our Recent Speaking Engagment Video

May 3rd, 2010

Spend less, and give more

January 6th, 2010

Philadephia Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall mentions “Live Your Legacy Now!” as she reflects on charitable gift giving this Holiday season.

Read the article: Spend less, and give more
By Annette John-Hall

Read About Barbara’s Speech at the German Consulate

December 9th, 2009

On November 18, 2009, Barbara was invited to address a group of dignitaries, educators and youth from Berlin and the Bronx at the German Consulate in New York City. Read more about her presentation:,archiveCtx=1998824.html