Rita Shimmin, beloved Executive Director, on her retirement after 17 years at GLIDE

Join us for a special GLIDE Sunday Celebration at GLIDE Church on Sunday, October 27, 2019. We’ll hear from Minister Marvin K. White, Isoke Femi and Rita herself as we celebrate, honor and pay tribute to her work at GLIDE. RSVP and Invite Your Friends!

“You Are GLIDE. I Am GLIDE. Without Exception, We Are All GLIDE.”

After 30‭ ‬years of nonprofit work‭, ‬the last 17‭ ‬years in leadership at GLIDE‭, ‬Executive Director Rita Shimmin has decided to retire‭. ‬Below‭, ‬Rita shares some thoughts about GLIDE and her retirement.

Rita‭, ‬why do you think this is a good time for you to retire‭? ‬

There are a lot of beautiful people here who will take GLIDE forward. I am impressed with and confident in our staff and congregants’ ability to carry on the emotion, spirit, values and good work of GLIDE. GLIDE’s staff and reputation are our most important assets. We are doing a lot that continues the vision of GLIDE as a community of unconditional love and radical inclusivity: the LEAD program, the OPT-IN program, the Leadership Academy, our outreach to women in the local jail, innovations in the Meals program, and new social justice programs led by Rabbi Lezak, to name a few. Our work continues to attract wonderful people like our CEO and President, Karen Hanrahan. The best is yet to come! 

I know the organization is in a good place, and I am ready to open myself to new opportunities. When people hear the word “retire,” they often think that someone is just going to stop doing things. That’s not the case for me. I feel excited about who I am and what will come next. I’m still young. Apparently 75 is still very young. I recently saw a YouTube show about well-known celebrities over the age of 90, and quite a few who had reached 100! So I’m looking into planning my next 30 years.  

With Rev. Cecil Williams in 2013.

How did you first come to GLIDE and what was that like? 

I came to GLIDE as temporary management replacement in May of 2002 for eight weeks. 
I managed the Safety Team, the Meals program and the Walk-In Center. I loved working with the staff, some of whom are still here. At that time, the manager’s office window looked right out on the meal line. I got very excited, listening to the spirit and the energy of the folks talking together in the meal line. I heard wild conversations, and very intelligent, political and philosophical conversations. I got a thought then that I continue to hold: that the people in our lines are the people who will lead us, into the future, into liberation, into everything. Because they are able to see outside of convention—the convention of politics, the convention of reality, the convention of religion. They see and experience outside the boxes that have many of us trapped. I fell in love with the staff and the people we serve. My first experience at GLIDE told me this is a very uniquely exciting place with many possibilities for changing the world.   

“…‬the people in our lines are the people who will lead us‭, ‬into the future‭, ‬into liberation‭, ‬into everything‭…‬‮”

With Felicia Horowitz at SF Pride.


How did you end up staying‭ ‬at GLIDE so long‭?

In November of 2002, I joined GLIDE as the Associate Executive Director in charge of programs. I was confused about GLIDE for a while. Was it a church, or a foundation, or programs? At that time, I was responsible for different service centers, representing many different programs and business models—a primary healthcare clinic, a family and childcare center, a 364-day meals program, and an array of social services. And the church, of course, overlapped with many of these activities. Every day was different, and I never had a dull day. When I think of leaving GLIDE now, I have tremendous gratitude for the visions of Jan and Cecil. GLIDE is a playground, a place to have big fun! GLIDE is a platform from which to express your life and your life purpose. 

GLIDE has to be experienced, a place that exists beyond what can just be seen. For me, it’s been a place to stimulate the expansiveness of my soul and mind and heart. It is not a place to be comfortable. There are many opportunities here to feel centered, to feel grounded, to feel joy. But very soon you’ll be uncomfortable for some reason. And those times of discomfort are the times when growth and love happen. My capacity to care and love has grown here. GLIDE will always be with me. I will always be with GLIDE.   


With W. Kamau Bell at GLIDE in 2016.
With Minister Marvin K. White at SF Pride 2019.
With Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani at Cecil’s 90th Birthday, September 2019.
With Rev. Cecil Williams, Karen Hanrahan, Janice Mirikitani and india.arie at GLIDE’s Holiday Jam 2018.


We wish Rita much happiness in her future endeavors and are so very grateful for her love and contributions to the success of GLIDE and our community‭! ‬♥