History of leadership

OP_ConnectLogo_50x50_WhiteSharon Cornu is a respected organizational leader providing high-quality leadership development, strategic communications and community engagement services to advocacy, non-profit and social enterprise organizations. Cornu is known for innovative, results-driven strategies, communications and collective impact in diverse sectors. Two decades’ experience in advocacy on economic security and equity provide deep insight into winning while building stronger organizations. Cornu structures services to deliver impact while building clients’ leadership capacity.

Cornu co-founded a social enterprise print shop in Rhode Island in the early 1980s, which led to communications and political roles in the labor movement. In the 1990s, her websites and email newsletters won awards, and in the 2000s, her candidates won elections. An award-winning writer and spokesperson, she has secured client placements in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, KCBS, KQED, and NPR. As managing director for a statewide public affairs consultancy, she managed teams that produced successful community engagement campaigns in transportation, education, and workforce.

As executive officer of the 100,000 member Alameda Labor Council, she created innovative leadership, community organizing and electoral programs before being tapped to serve as National Field Director for the AFL-CIO in 2010. Returning to Oakland, Cornu was appointed to the Mayor’s Transition Working Group, and served as Deputy Mayor in 2011. Her firm, Opportunity Partners, served diverse clients including think tanks, grassroots organizations, small business, labor organizations from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, she followed a family tradition and initiated a successful electoral strategy yielding $2 billion in new investment in affordable homes.

Cornu’s leadership has been recognized by National Low-Income Housing Coalition (2017), Assemblymember Sandré Swanson’s Woman of the Year (2007), and Governor’s Minority Business of the Year (1991). She served as board member for the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, United Labor Bank and East Bay Economic Development Alliance.

Cornu has developed training and leadership programs, including a community college course that placed more than two dozen graduates in policymaking appointments. A magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, Cornu earned a masters degree in human services administration and communications at UMass/Boston. She teaches in the graduate Public Policy program at Mills College, Oakland. 


  • National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Organizer of the Year, 2017
  • Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Unionist of the Year, 2011
  • East Bay Housing Organizations Visionary Leadership Award, 2009
  • Woman of the Year, 16th Assembly District / Hon. Sandré Swanson, 2007
  • No on Prop 73 (Parental Notification) Above & Beyond Award, 2006
  • Western Labor Communicators Association, Special Service, 2000
  • Governor’s Minority Business of the Year, RI Small Business Development Center, 1991


  • United Business Bank, Oakland, CA, federal savings bank, Director, 2009 – 2010. Completed California Bankers Association certificate
  • Oakland Army Base Review Panel, Member, 2008 – 2009
  • Oakland Unified School District Audit Committee, Member, 2007 –  2010
  • East Bay Economic Development Alliance, Executive Committee, 2006 – 2010
  • Alameda County Workforce Investment Board, Member, 2004 – 2006