I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lori Marshall who, as a founding member and Vice President of HonorWorks, has dedicated herself to spreading the message of the transformative power of Honor. Lori brings her background in graphic arts, event planning, and her well-honed skills in operations management to make sure HonorWorks stays on track toward its clear purpose.
Beyond Lori’s professional skills, she brings her personal life experience, rich with understanding and an open heart that is gained only through knowing both great sorrow and great joy. Finally, Lori is Swil Kanim’s beautiful and loving wife.
Lori was born in Amarillo, Texas and spent her early childhood in the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. At the time, in the 1970s, Las Vegas was rocked by inter-racial violence and Lori experienced, at a young age, the pain of “otherness”. Her father took the decision to move the family to the safe but rather desolate panhandle of Oklahoma, and then moved the family again to the plains of Kansas, where he took a job managing a rural airstrip. Lonely and uprooted, Lori married and became a mother at a young age. Sadly, the marriage failed, as so many young marriages do. Thus began Lori’s journey to find her purpose in life.
Many years later, Lori had successfully raised her daughter and was employed as the event coordinator for the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, Washington. Charged with managing the Washington State Arts Alliance convention, it was one of Lori’s tasks to organize sound equipment for the event. Through this process, Lori was compelled to introduce herself to a handsome performer who, she noticed, was holding a violin. When she confessed to him that she had recently started taking violin lessons, and he readily encouraged her to show him what she’d learned. When Lori tells the story of this fateful encounter, her large eyes widen when she describes this handsome man’s warm, reassuring manner. She also scrunches her face in a mortified cringe when recalling how she reluctantly and awkwardly sawed through the strains of “Amazing Grace” on his beautiful violin. “Ugh! It was the only song I knew how to play!”
When it was time for Swil Kanim to perform, Lori found a way to steal away from her office to hear him. To her great delight, Swil Kanim closed his program with a heartbreakingly soulful performance of “Amazing Grace”.
There is a particular magic that exists between this couple who have found each other later in life and after a long and painful search. They are kindred spirits – true soul mates – and like countless aspects of the HonorWorks organization, one can clearly see evidence of both Swil Kanim’s and Lori’s creative “DNA”. Indeed, when designing the HonorCoin, it was Lori’s initiative to use a feather motif. Beyond the iconic resonance of the feather and its ancient significance to so many disparate cultures all over the world, Lori reminded me of its significance of life’s winding search. “You never know where that feather has been on its journey to find you.”