Sharon Cornu is an innovative campaign consultant, working in advocacy, communications, and coalition building. She leads campaigns to reduce income inequality, create middle class jobs, and support equity in development. Cornu co-founded a social enterprise print shop in Rhode Island in the early 1980s, which led her to communications and political organizing in the labor movement. She created innovative leadership and political programs at the 100,000 member Alameda Labor Council from 2003 to 2010, when she was tapped to serve as National Field Director for the AFL-CIO.
Sharon Cornu founded Opportunity Partners in 2012 to provide industry-leading public affairs and strategic communications services for clients ready to grow their organizations and increase their impact.
Opportunity Partners gives clients a new voice, sharper strategies, and detailed execution of work plans, while developing internal leadership and capacity. Our clients in transit, housing and workforce get results from a unique blend of organizational development, advocacy, and strategic communications experience that supports building to win and building to last.
Cornu is known for innovative, creative programs that develop leaders, build constituency and persuade decision-makers at local, regional and statewide levels. She initiated and taught a ground-breaking community college course to train neighborhood and workplace leaders to take on leadership roles in boards and commissions. She led strategy development and coalition-building for campaigns to raise the minimum wage, ensure equity in development, and protect industrial land.
An award-winning communications director, Cornu has placed clients and their issues in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, KQED, and NPR. She has worked with clients in transit, housing and workforce industries to re-tool messaging and reach new audiences in competitive environments. Opportunity Partners designs and manages mail and electronic communications programs that persuade and engage.
Appointed to the Mayor’s Transition Working Group, Cornu served as Deputy Mayor in Oakland in 2011. Cornu worked to protect manufacturing jobs and industrial land. She served on the boards of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, United Labor Bank and East Bay Economic Development Alliance. Her leadership was recognized by East Bay Housing Organizations (2009), Assemblymember Sandre Swanson’s Woman of the Year (2007), and Governor’s Minority Business of the Year (1991). A magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, Cornu holds a masters degree from UMass/Boston and is pursuing studies in economics and social enterprise job creation at Mills College, Oakland.
Her proudest accomplishments include developing and teaching a course at Laney College to prepare community residents for public service, which successfully placed working class and leaders of color from labor and community organizations in decision-making positions around the Bay Area.
In the midst of the eviction of Occupy Oakland, despite Jean Quan's desire that the movement split up along pro- and anti-encampment factions, the most serious divisions seem to be taking shape in her own administration. In the wake of the November 14 raid, her long-time legal advisor Dan Siegel resigned, explaining, "The city sent police to evict this camp, arrest people and potentially hurt them. Obviously, we're not on the same page. It's an amazing show of force to move tents from a public place."
Soon after, Sharon Cornu, Quan's co-deputy mayor and former leader of the Alameda Central Labor Council, resigned. Her exact reasons are unclear, and Cornu's parting remarks seemed to indicate her support for Quan's decision to raid Oscar Grant Plaza. "The situation on the plaza was untenable," said Cornu.
UC Berkeley Labor Center
Ear to the Ground Project
- We would like to express our deep respect and appreciation for everyone who took the time to talk with us, and the organizations that generously hosted us during our travels. Interviews were confidential, but the following people have agreed to have their names listed for this publication:
Most of those listed were connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Sharon Cornu was among those on the list.