As CEO, Sharon provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Levitt Foundation’s mission to strengthen the social fabric of America and reinvigorate public spaces through the power of free, live music. Through her role at the Levitt Foundation—a national social impact funder working at the intersection of music, public space, and…
As CEO, Sharon provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Levitt Foundation’s mission to strengthen the social fabric of America and reinvigorate public spaces through the power of free, live music. Through her role at the Levitt Foundation—a national social impact funder working at the intersection of music, public space, and community building—she has become a recognized thought leader on arts investments in public spaces to build equitable, healthy, and thriving communities.
Following 15 years in community arts programming and the performing arts, Sharon joined the Levitt Foundation in 2009—the family Foundation’s first employee—to professionalize the organization and scale Levitt programs nationally. Sharon’s passionate commitment to the arts as a vehicle for positive change in communities has guided the growth of Levitt programs across the country to include over 40 towns and cities today, including the development of long-term public/private partnerships in major U.S. cities, expanding grant programs into rural areas, sustainability strategies for Levitt grantees, and fostering the Levitt network’s ethos of shared learning and advancing collective impact, in addition to the Foundation’s creative placemaking research and investments in music ecosystems.
With her background working with grassroots nonprofits, Sharon transitioned the Levitt Foundation to a trust-based philanthropy model early on in her tenure. She has earned a reputation as a thoughtful and respected collaborator within the fields of philanthropy, creative placemaking, and community development. Responsive to the realities of nonprofits, she has guided Foundation staff to develop robust resources, toolkits, and peer connections for grantees, providing meaningful support beyond funding for their work in communities. Sharon centers equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of Levitt’s work, from internal operations to the Foundation’s funding philosophy and grantmaking to ensuring grantees receive trainings and resources to embed EDI into the many layers of bringing a music series to life.
Sharon collaborates closely with the Levitt Foundation team in the organization’s contributions to the field, including multi-year research and field-building initiatives. As the chief spokesperson for the Foundation, Sharon travels across the country to speak about the impact of Levitt programs, Levitt-commissioned research, and creative placemaking at large. Reflecting the reach of Levitt and how integrating the arts across sectors elevates the overall well-being and economic vitality of communities, Sharon shares the Levitt model with a wide range of audiences—including those in the arts, government, music industry, philanthropy, community development, urban planning, and parks—to illustrate why inclusive arts investment strategies should be prioritized. She is often an invited speaker and moderator at regional, national, and international conferences. Sharon also guest lectures at undergraduate and graduate music business and nonprofit management programs, providing inspiration to the next generation of leaders to create access and equitable opportunities within their fields.
Beyond Levitt, Sharon currently serves on the board of Center for Music Ecosystems, an international organization dedicated to globally relevant research to address societal issues and effect change through music. Sharon has been a grant panelist for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Nebraska Arts Council, where she is from. As a board member of California Presenters, Sharon played an active role leading one of the country’s largest presenting associations—she served as Vice President, mentored emerging leaders, and chaired three annual conferences. She was also executive co-producer of the 2019 National Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit | Pacific in partnership with the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking and ArtPlace America.
Prior to her position with the Levitt Foundation, Sharon was the founding Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles at MacArthur Park. Her work there and the venue’s impact in the community earned her the recognition of “Los Angeles Park Hero” by the City of Los Angeles. Sharon’s career began in metropolitan Chicago, where she produced free outdoor concert series and worked with a range of artists and arts nonprofits, followed by time in the finance sector. Sharon earned a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University with a concentration in arts and business management.