Throughout Sharda’s career, she has used her communications and strategy skills to capture key audiences, demystify complex issues and help propel reforms. Sharda got her start in activism as a high school student when she helped organize student protests to budget cuts and inequity in the education system. In the years following, she worked on campaigns that dramatically shifted public opinion and policies on criminal justice and drug policy as managing director of communications at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Sharda played a leadership role in groundbreaking human rights work that led to marriage equality and recognition of transgender rights through her work as national news and field media director at GLAAD. She co-founded an organization called the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) in 2004, a trailblazing human rights effort to challenge poverty and inequality in the US.
Why are you a strategist for good?
“I was the working class child of an Indian immigrant father and an African-American mom, who raised me on her own. I have been incredibly fortunate to have strong support for my education, which afforded me enormous opportunities to learn, grow, and to see the world. I believe my purpose in life is to use my skills and experiences to support ideas that offer the full expression of human potential and dignity to everyone.”
What’s your superpower?
“My superpower is empathy. It’s sort of second nature for me to imagine myself in someone else’s shoes and to let my feelings transcend the range of human experience. It makes it hard for me to ignore things, however uncomfortable or unpleasant, and often it helps me build bridges and find common ground in understanding.”
Who is your intellectual crush?
“Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith. I’ve admired her work since I was a teenager. I even attempted to perform from her incredible one-woman plays, “Fires in the Mirror” and “Twilight: Los Angeles,” when I was on my high school speech and debate team. I am awed by Smith’s ability to capture and embody many different voices and perspectives to tell powerful and complicated stories about race, power, politics, and humanity.”