MINDFULNESS TEACHER. COMMUNITY ORGANIZER. PHILANTHROPIST. AUTHOR. SELF-CARE ACTIVIST. PUBLIC SPEAKER. FORMER CORPORATE EXECUTIVE. MOTHER. WIFE. SISTER. DAUGHTER. FRIEND. SKATER GIRL. MIND NINJA.
After spending nearly 20 years in Corporate America, immersed in Fortune 1000 organizations and holding executive positions leading public and privately held companies, Shelly decided to stop following the expected path and start following her lifelong passion – mindfulness and meditation – and began to fuse this passion with her purpose – community organization and ensuring equity, social justice and access to wellbeing for all.
Her journey began by teaching free meditation classes Sunday morning on the sands of Hollywood Beach, Florida. What started as a group of 12 friends blossomed into a community of more than 15,000 in a matter of two years – a diverse mix of souls that proclaimed itself “The Sand Tribe”. The class is always free. The warm welcome is for anyone who shows up. Shelly’s work is built around one simple precept: No Barrier To Entry. She wants everyone to have access to the joys and health benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Not just those with means.
At the heart of Shelly’s practice is a fierce justice warrior and social activist. Shelly combines the pragmatic business skills she learned in the corporate world with the tenets of mediation and mindfulness to make the world a better place.
Shelly is deeply involved in offering trauma-informed healing practices to communities affected by gun violence and mass shootings and has led fully funded retreats for survivors and victims’ families representing Parkland, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Aurora, Columbine and more. She was featured on the cover of Mindful Magazine® in June 2019 for her work in this space.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, once again Shelly rose to the occasion. On March 14th, 2020, at the dawn of the crisis, she posted two simple Google forms online. One read “Get Help” the other “Give Help”. The next morning, she was shocked to find hundreds of requests from both sides of the equation. She began directly matching those in need with patrons willing to help them meet their needs and the Pandemic of Love movement was born. Those few hundred requests grew to thousands; which grew to over 600,000 people matched within six months.
To date, Pandemic of Love boasts nearly 4000 volunteers worldwide and has directly exchanged nearly $70 million in donations and has connected over 2.5 million people. It has been featured on over 100 media outlets, including CNN, BBC and The Kelly Clarkson Show. It has enjoyed incredible support from influencers such as Debra Messing, Chelsea Handler, Maria Shriver, Busy Phillips and Kristen Bell. Pandemic of Love continues to match those in need during this crisis directly with patrons who can help through their grassroots mutual aid platform. This work will continue well beyond the pandemic and Shelly is committed to formalizing mutual aid in communities across the world.
Shelly was honored by CNN Heroes in 2020.
Shelly has been an organizer and speaker for the Women’s March. She works to support organizations such as March For Our Lives, Black Lives Matter, indigenous tribes such as the Navajo and Hopi, and other groups committed to social justice and driving real change. In doing so, she’s also seen the toll that activism can take on people. The exhaustion. The let downs. Even feelings of failure and hopelessness. That’s why a big part of what Shelly teaches today is self-care. She believes that – in Audre Lorde’s words – “self-care is an act of resistance” unto itself because the only way to make change is to maintain your energy, health and mental wellbeing. And the only way to achieve that is through the building of communities of care.
Shelly shares her methods of self-care in her book published in 2021 (New World Library) titled “Sit Down To Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World” which was honored as a Gold winner of the Nautilus Book Award and a finalist for the Fall 2021 Big Idea Book Club.
Her upcoming book, “How We Ended Racism: Realizing a New Possibility in One Generation,” co-authored by Justin Michael Williams, is due out in October of 2023 from Sounds True.
She’s also recorded a series of workshops with Recorded Books, available on Audible.
Shelly is a student of the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and is certified in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). She is a certified Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (founded at Google over a decade ago) teacher. Her contemplations and lessons shared freely over social media have gained tens of thousands of followers, and she was recently referred to as one of the most “Powerful Women in Mindfulness” by mindful.org.
Shelly holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University.