Rindy Barmore, longtime presence in Colonnade, community, to retire at year’s end


After 37 years serving the Chautauqua community, Rindy Barmore, executive assistant to the president and board secretary, will retire at the end of 2023. 

“(Working here) has totally broadened my understanding of the world around me in terms of diversity,” Barmore said. “It’s also brought me great education.”

Barmore first joined Chautauqua Institution’s staff in the Advancement Office. After deciding the secretarial role wasn’t for her, Tom Becker,  who later became the 17th president of Chautauqua, offered her the director of research position in the Development Office of the Chautauqua Foundation.

“I had not done research — in that facet — in the past, but I found it very intriguing,” Barmore said. “I enjoyed getting to know the donors; I created lasting and significant relationships with them. I truly cared for the donors and their passion and love for Chautauqua, which I found to be really exceptional and rewarding.”

Barmore often worked with research aimed to identify potential donors. She later became the director of research, donor cultivation and campaign management, as well as corporate secretary. 

“All the positions in fundraising are related to the efforts to increase philanthropic funding to the Institution through the Foundation,” Barmore said. “There were at least four or more campaigns that I assisted in running.”

In these roles, she worked under Richard (Dick) Miller, a descendant of Chautauqua Institution founder Lewis Miller, who served as Chautauqua Foundation president. 

“Working under Dick Miller was one of my greatest (experiences),” Barmore said. “I was taken under the wing of Dick. … He was a respectable (leader) who’s guidance always made you a better person.”

Barmore said she worked with Becker as his “right-hand person” during his time as chief executive officer of the Foundation. When Becker moved into the position of Chautauqua Institution President in 2005, he personally asked Barmore to join him as his executive assistant. 

“There are numerous chairs (and colleagues) that I’ve worked with through the years on the Foundation that have been real partners and mentors for me,” she said.

Barmore is originally from Frewsburg, New York. She said she is grateful to have raised her three children with her husband in the Chautauqua community.

“My biggest (source of gratitude) is the impact that (Chautauqua) has had on my family, because without this job, I know we would not have (this community),” Barmore said. “But the exposure that Chautauqua has given myself, my husband and my family has broadened our overall view of the world.”

Barmore’s son has special needs, and she fondly remembers the supportive community of friends he found when he was in Boys’ and Girls’ Club several years ago. 

“When he was in Boys’ and Girls’ Club, he decided he wanted to have a birthday party,” Barmore said. “We were really apprehensive about it because we had done this before and people hadn’t shown up.”

Despite their concerns, Barmore and her husband decided to host the birthday party for their son anyway.

“A group of 10 to 15 great kids he was in Club with came singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to celebrate with him,” Barmore said. “It was the first time in his life that he felt included and felt like he had a community other than his family — that is a gift I could have never given him.”

To this day, Chautauquans continue to support her son,  who works at the Athenaeum Hotel. The friends he made during his youth at Boys’ and Girls’ Club continue to stay in touch and visit him when they come to Chautauqua.

“(My son) has freedom here,” Barmore said. “He’s able to walk and be safe in this community. He’s able to have a somewhat normal life that I don’t think we could have otherwise provided.” 

Barmore’s biggest hope is for Chautauqua to stay true to its mission of openness and inclusivity, growing to become even more diverse and understanding of each others’ differences. 

“(Chautauqua) has totally broadened my life in terms of all that is out there and all the wonderful things and different people — just like my son, he’s different,” Barmore said. “That difference is unique and wonderful.”

In her retirement, Barmore plans to move to South Carolina with her husband and son to be closer to family. She hopes to take better care of herself, continue fostering loving relationships with her family and become involved in volunteer work. 

“I’ve already made some connections, and I want to be involved in some Special Olympics organizations there to help my son become acclimated to the area,” Barmore said. “I would love to work with some of the special needs kids because they are so genuine and their heart is true — there’s no falseness to what they do.”

Beyond that, Barmore also hopes to assist unhoused people and veterans.

“I have a nephew who has suffered greatly from being in Iraq, and there’s a lot of veterans who are not being supported,” she said. “I hope to get more involved in things like that and continue to give as much as I can.”

While enjoying retirement in South Carolina, Barmore will continue to cherish the relationships and memories she’s made at Chautauqua.

“The relationships that I’ve made are honest and real,” she said. “It was not about who they were or what position they held or what I could do. I hope they know that (our relationships) came from my heart, and that I really care.”


The author Alyssa Bump

Alyssa Bump is a life-long Western New Yorker, but this is her first season on the grounds of Chautauqua. She is eager to recap the Interfaith Lecture Series while broadening her perspective of the human experience. Alyssa is a senior at SUNY Fredonia, majoring in journalism and public relations with a minor in professional writing. As editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, The Leader, Alyssa focuses on becoming a compelling storyteller and an innovative leader.