Sharon H. Worthy — a senior political appointee in the administrations of four Republican presidents, civil rights and education activist, and a 45-year member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha national sorority — passed away suddenly on August 18, 2021, at her home in Arlington, Virginia. A beloved only child of Alberta A. and Willie J. Worthy, Sharon was born in Ocala, Florida, on December 23, 1956. One of her formative experiences as a young girl was listening to Dr. Martin Luther King as he sat at her parents’ kitchen table during a tour of the South to build support for his great civil rights crusade. Throughout her life, Sharon remained strongly committed in her professional and personal endeavors to serving others and advancing education and opportunity for African-Americans and women.
A graduate of Vanguard High School in Ocala, Sharon prepared herself for a career in public service by earning a B.A. in political science from Stetson University and pursuing graduate studies in public policy at Florida State University in Tallahassee. In the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, she helped lead USDA initiatives to support historically black land-grant colleges and universities, as well as HUD programs to assist minority and women small business entrepreneurs. She was a senior public affairs advisor in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Labor during the administration of President George W. Bush, as well as a senior public affairs advisor in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation during the administration of President Donald Trump. Among her many professional achievements, she also served as a strategic communications advisor to the Director of FEMA, and a professional staff member of the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities of the U.S. House of Representatives. Active in state government as well, Sharon was appointed Policy, Legislative and External Affairs Director of the Virginia Employment Commission from 2010-2014.
Committed to giving back to others, Sharon was an enthusiastic member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a national sorority dedicated to advancing education, leadership and opportunity for African-American women and service to their communities. Sharon served as President of the Phi Nu Omega Chapter of Alexandria, Virginia; chaired several international and regional committees; and was a member of the International Rituals Committee. From 1994-1998 she was the Director of the sorority’s Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.
In addition, Sharon continued her parents’ commitment to education and civil rights through her work as a strategic communications consultant to the Gloucester Institute in Gloucester, Virginia. The Institute honors the legacy of Dr. Robert Russa Moton, who rose from humble beginnings as an enslaved person to become a leading African-American educator, intellectual and champion of African-American higher education. At his refurbished historic home Holly Knoll, Sharon helped the Institute bring together young African-American leaders to learn about his legacy and debate and discover the best solutions to the challenges facing their community today.
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