Sharon's career has been grounded in her vision of the transformative potential of education to improve the lives of adult learners. Over the last four decades, she has worked in progressively more responsible academic and administrative roles at four Alberta post-secondary institutions: University of Calgary, Mount Royal College (now a university), Olds College, and Bow Valley College. She has also been the owner of a successful marketing and communications business.
President and CEO of Bow Valley College since 1997, Sharon was hired to lead the college through its transition from a provincially administered institution to a public board-governed college. Under her leadership, the College doubled enrolment; introduced dozens of new programs; embraced a new mandate as Calgary and region's comprehensive community college; and substantially increased revenues, largely through entrepreneurial efforts.
A fourth generation Calgarian, Sharon has completed three degrees at the University of Calgary: a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), a Bachelor of Education (with distinction), and a Masters of Communications Studies. Her academic work has been enriched with professional development experiences, including studies at Harvard, Oxford, Vanderbilt, and McGill universities.
Sharon serves as faculty for Leadership and Management Development Institute for Current Program Chairs, as an executive of eCampusAlberta, as chair of the Calgary Post-secondary CEOs Organization, and as a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta.Over her career, Sharon has been a founder of several organizations: the Educational Liaison Association of Alberta, Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes, eCampusAlberta, ApplyAlberta, and in community, Olds Fashioned Christmas and imagineCALGARY. She also served on the Board and Executive of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC is now "Colleges and Institutes Canada").
In the community, Sharon serves on the board of the Calgary Homeless Foundation and as a member of the Council of Champions for the United Way initiative "Upstart Champions for Children and Youth." She is also a member of the International Women's Forum. Among her many awards and honours include Alberta Centennial Medial (2005), Calgary Award for Education (2010), Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal (2011), Olds College Honourary Degree (2013), Colleges and Institutes Canada Distinguished Service Award (2013), SAIT Polytechnic Honourary Degree (2014), Alberta Order of Excellence (2014), and Women's Executive Network's Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award Winner (2014).
More recently, Sharon was given an honourary title and received a Blackfoot name, Niipaitapi [nee-bah-tah-pee] Askinimatstohki [es-ksee-nee-maht-stooh-kee], which means Lifelong Educator. Sharon was invited into this spiritual experience in recognition of her commitment to enhancing First Nations' access to adult education and success as well as for her role in establishing educational programming that reflects First Nations' traditional ways of life and ways of knowing.