Sharon Alpert

Executive-in-Residence, Building Common Ground
Sharon Alpert

Sharon Alpert is a visionary philanthropic leader with more than two decades of experience in social justice philanthropy, environmental, community and economic development, and the private sector.  She is known for challenging the status quo and taking risks to support leaders and movements to solve the climate crisis and reimagine our economy to build a just and sustainable future for people and the planet.

She most recently served as the fourth President and first female CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, where she led the foundation to align 100% of its half a billion dollar endowment with its mission, making it the largest foundation to undertake such a commitment. Under Sharon’s leadership, NCF prioritized racial justice,increased its annual payout, held corporations accountable through shareholder activism, and used its moral voice to shine a spotlight on increasing threats to our democracy, including the rise of white nationalism.

Sharon joined NCF after 11 years at the Surdna Foundation, one of the oldest and largest family foundations in the U.S.   As the Vice President of Programs and Strategic Initiatives, shewas the lead architect of Surdna’s first strategic plan, which centered on social justice and led to a realignment of all its programs, as well as a $100 million commitment to mission related investing.  As Director of Surdna’s Sustainable Environments Program, she supported transformational work at the intersection of the environment and inequality, including helping to conceive Recovery through Retrofit, a signature piece of President Obama’s stimulus plan to increase the energy efficiency of homes and create green jobs.

Sharon began her career in philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, where she launched the first cross‐portfolio regional equity initiative and designed a new multi-year strategy for the environmental justice portfolio.

Prior to that, Sharon was a community organizer and housing developer at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, worked at the Washington Office on Environmental Justice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and was a liaison to the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. She also worked on Wall Street as the Director of Marketing for a tech startup.

Sharon holds a master’s in public administration and a bachelor’s in agricultural, resource and managerial economics from Cornell University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her Canadian husband, and their two children.