Our Founder

Maryann Jacobi Gray


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.

Here are remembrances from UCLA, UC- Irvine, and National Public Radio


Remembering Maryann:

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

Reflections from our community:

My first few correspondences with Maryann provided a lifeline and a dose of hope. I was grateful for her kindness, compassion, wisdom, empathy, and dedication to be present for so many, pointing us all toward self-compassion and healing. I am forever grateful for her courage. Jenn E.

When I reached out to Maryann after I read about her experience in New York Magazine I was shocked she would speak with me. When I shared about my accident she loved me. I felt that in that phone call and hope I can share a bit of that love with the people who tell me about their accidents. David P.

Maryann taught me that we are deserving of support, that opening up is not self-pity; it is authentic and it is strong. Following her advice has brought me to where I am today. Thank you, Maryann. Ben P.

Maryann touched my soul. I once asked her, “Why me?” She responded, “Well, why not you? We are here for you.” Melissa P.

Maryann was a lifeline in my darkest time. After my accident, many people told me I would make it through and that the overwhelming darkness wouldn’t last forever but she was the first person I believed because she had been through it as well. Melissa M.

One of the first things Maryann wrote me was that it can be very healing and powerful to talk with others who share similar experiences. This was so clear, unassuming and says it all for me. Aaron A.

Maryann was the first person I ever spoke with who knew exactly what I was going through; she got it. The connection was so powerful and proved to be a first step toward healing. Anita G.

Maryann made you feel seen and made you feel special and worthy of love when you don’t feel those things yourself. This world needs many, many more Maryann’s. Hilary W.

Maryann opened up a door for me by showing me I’m not alone and by providing access to others like me. I’ll be forever grateful to her. Todd W.

Maryann in her own words

Courtesy of Jennifer Eikenhorst

Make a tax-deductible gift in Maryann’s honor to continue her legacy and support for those who have unintentionally harmed.

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Hyacinth Fellowship Update:

Remembering Founder Maryann Gray

Friends, colleagues and family members gathered together on Thursday, June 11th at the James West Alumni Center, UCLA to celebrate the life of The Hyacinth Founder Maryann Gray who passed away in April. We were honored to see so many members of The Hyacinth Fellowship community who came in for the event or joined in on Zoom. Click here for a link of the service.

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