Council Member Highlight
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
by Hedi Charde
In June, Shari Barzun replaced Rob Morrison and joined Louisa Paushter as the CCHRC’s new co-chair. Rob has been on the Council for so many years he cannot remember exactly, and became co-chair in 2013. Shari was new to the Council in 2017 after former co-chair Polly Attwood urged her to get involved.
Rob has served in a variety of roles on the Council over the years, first as a board member helping out as needed, and then, in 2011, spearheading the effort to secure Fenn School’s auditorium (now known as Ward Hall) for the Council’s annual MLK Jr Celebration each January. In 2013 Rob became co-chair of the Council with long-time CCHRC member Ronni Olitsky. “While I will continue to help with our annual events, I’ll miss being able to meet with Chief O’Connor and help deal directly with human rights complaints brought to the Concord police,” explained Rob. “It was during the one-on-one meetings with victims of prejudice that I found most rewarding. Fortunately, these incidents are rare in our town, but I’m proud that the CCHRC provides a place where the aggrieved have their voices heard.”
Rob believes that no issue in his lifetime has moved so fast and made as many strides as equal rights for the LGBT community. And locally, he is most proud of the community’s work to help Concord become designated a “Welcoming Community.”
An English and Social Studies teacher at Fenn, Rob jokes that he and his wife Liz (also a CCHRC board member) are “newcomers” to Concord, having moved here in 1989. They raised their four children here and are now adjusting to life as empty-nesters. Outside of his work and his commitment to the CCHRC, Rob is also an avid soccer fan and player. He was co-founder of the Concord United Football Club over 25 years ago, and says that “almost every Sunday I still drag my tired bones around the soccer pitch.”
Shari’s first role in the Council was helping to organize the MLK Jr celebration. She found it so satisfying that she has continued to be involved in that celebration, now for her third year. When asked about why she became involved in the CCHRC, Shari explained that “the most basic of human rights—life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, no slavery, no torture, no discrimination—are being challenged every day by the current political climate, and I believe that challenge is both local and global.” Furthermore, she looked to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see quote below) and it was Eleanor Roosevelt’s description of “where universal human rights begin” that encapsulates why she joined the council.
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the United Nations Commission that wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Outside of the CCHRC, Shari, a Concord resident for 26 years, coordinates and teaches tennis programs for Concord Recreation. In her spare time she plays tennis, walks and plays with her dogs, reads, and cheers on the Patriots. Shari lives with her husband, dogs and two boys, now in college.