As the founder and driving force behind first, Accidental Impacts and now The Hyacinth Fellowship, Maryann Jacobi Gray worked as a social psychologist and educator and most recently served as assistant provost at UCLA. She also worked at RAND as a behavioral science researcher and at the University of Southern California as an associate vice provost.
When Maryann was 22 years old she unintentionally killed an 8-year-old boy who darted in front of her car. She spoke and wrote widely about the challenges facing those who unintentionally harm or kill others for more than 20 years.
In the fledgling field of our pursuit, helping those who unintentionally harm others, Maryann Gray is a legend. She pioneered acceptance, understanding, and compassion as she reminded untold thousands of people that it hurts to hurt others. She sought out, inspired, and initiated science-based research while grounding her work in loving, personal relationships with people whom she affectionately called CADIs (Causing Accidental Death or Injury) believing hers to be, at its heart, a deeply spiritual enterprise.
Maryann’s work was rooted in suffering.
Her experience in graduate school of winding through the back roads of Southern Ohio on a clear, summery morning when 8-year-old Brian darted in front of her car, shaped nearly every day that followed.
He died, as did a part of her.
Consequently, a seed would fall to the ground and, like a hyacinth, grow into something of great beauty and fragrance that has made life better for so many who have done what she did.
Maryann put her pain to purpose, when, in 2003, she founded a website called accidental impacts. She filled it with practical resources for people who cause unintentional harm. Today the site, and umbrella organization, has grown exponentially and is known as the Hyacinth Fellowship. In doing this work Maryann has given voice and validity to a massive tribe of people who live in the shadows of shame and guilt brought on by the unintentional harm they have caused.
Maryann was one of the most profound embodiments of compassion I’ve ever known. Selfless, generous, and gifted with more intelligence than the vast majority of us. I am ever grateful she chose to use those gifts for the betterment of humanity.
We carry on her litany:
“You are not your worst mistake.
You can recover from this.
You can, like a hyacinth, grow into something more beautiful than you think.”
I stand in humble gratitude alongside a mourning multitude of Maryann’s CADIs determined to put our pain to purpose by carrying on this work, her work, to the generations that follow. I invite you to support the Hyacinth Fellowship with your time, talent, or treasure. Together we can help, heal, and build a more compassionate world.
Chris Yaw, Board President
The Hyacinth Fellowship