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Sharon Barker

Sharon Barker

Sharon Barker’s contributions to the advancement of women and girls in Maine are extensive and long-lasting. In her leadership and advocacy roles throughout her career, Sharon has demonstrated a deep commitment to public service. Her personal power, keen intellect and exemplary networking skills have brought disparate people and causes together to create a better place for Maine people to live, work, grow and succeed.

Sharon has worked tirelessly to challenge and change the status quo for women, including improving educational access and creating economic opportunities as well as providing for their health care, safety, and reproductive freedom. Her focus is always on gender dynamics, and her approach is to act as a bridge and a catalyst, leveraging others’ work and communicating across generations and between sectors.

Through her position as Director of the University of Maine Women’s Resource Center, Sharon has made significant contributions in the development of all students (men and women) and the entire faculty and staff who work in so many diverse disciplines with diverse responsibilities. She has offered leadership in different ways at different times, responding to the needs and opportunities she encounters, including leadership programs for women students, networking opportunities for women in fields where they are under represented, advocacy for support staff and socioeconomic equity, exploring power dynamics, building coalitions, and working with men and women to achieve gender equity.

As an influential and engaged citizen of Maine, Sharon’s reach extends far beyond the University of Maine campus.  She provides support to the public schools and to numerous community and governmental organizations that benefit women and girls, including the nationally recognized “Expanding Your Horizons” conference for middle school girls, her leadership in founding Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center and her service on numerous boards of directors and committees (e.g., Mabel Wadsworth Center, Penobscot Valley AAUW, Maine Women’s Fund, Eastern Regional Commission for Women, Good Samaritan Agency, Bangor CUReS Project, Bangor Rape Crisis Center, Women’s Business Development Corporation, and the Komen Foundation). In addition, Sharon has made significant public service contributions on state task forces, committees and special projects; for example, she served on Congressman John Baldacci’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Crime, Domestic Violence, Drug Abuse and Hate Crimes. Most recently, Sharon served as a member of the Maine Jobs Council and chairs its Women’s Employment Issues Committee, which issues an annual report, “Working Women in Maine: Initial Indicators for Progress,” tracking Maine women’s success in the labor market.

Sharon’s prominence on the national level is exemplified by her receipt of two grants.  A grant from AAUW Educational Foundation established a scholar-in-residence program at the University of Maine with author and researcher Lyn Mikel Brown.  Brown studied the societal forces that influence girls and ultimately affect women’s friendships, and wrote the book Girl Fighting, one of many outcomes of this grant.  The second grant created the Maine Girls Collaborative Project, a member of the National Girls Collaborative Project, through funding from the Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the National Science Foundation.  This initiative brings girl-serving organizations together to strengthen capacity by sharing practice research and program models, outcomes and products to increase girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Sharon’s work has been widely recognized through a variety of local, state, and national awards.  Notable among these are the 2004 Sarah Orne Jewett Award of the Maine Women’s Fund, the 1997 National Education Association’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award, the 1997 Mabel Sine Wadsworth Women’s Health Achievement Award, the 1999 Bangor and Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year Awards and the 1995 Steve Gould Award at the University of Maine.

Sharon was born in Canada and grew up in Aroostook County. She attended the University of Maine, receiving degrees in psychology and public administration. Her family has always been a primary support in her life, along with Ruth Lockhart, her lifelong friend and professional colleague. Sharon lives in Bangor with her life partner, John Hoyt. They have two sons, Adam Barker-Hoyt and Matthew Hoyt and a granddaughter Chelsea Hoyt.

2009 photo