Dr. Sharon L. Contreras is passionate about providing high-quality education to each child with the goal that every student graduates college and career ready. A passionate advocate for providing high quality education to all children, Dr. Sharon L. Contreras has spent nearly 30 years dedicating her life to ensuring every student graduates college and career ready, and able to fully participate in our democracy.
In 2011, Dr. Contreras made history when she became the first woman of color to serve as superintendent of one of the “Big 5” urban districts in New York State. Dr. Contreras made history again when she was sworn in as the first woman, and first Latina Superintendent of Guilford County Schools. From the moment she took on her new role, Dr. Contreras has been singularly focused on improving educational outcomes for every single student. She began working toward that goal as a high school English teacher in Rockford, Illinois. Dr. Contreras has also been a principal, area superintendent, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, serving children & families across five states. She now leads one of the nation’s largest school systems with more than 10,000 employees and 73,000 PreK-12 students.
It is clear across Guilford County, the State of North Carolina, and throughout the nation that Dr. Contreras is on track to meet the goals that she laid out upon acceptance of her role as superintendent. She has championed educational access for all students, and academic outcomes continue to improve under her leadership. Dr. Contreras is widely respected throughout the country for her policy work to end racial disparities in education.
Dr. Contreras is a member of Chiefs for Change, a diverse, bipartisan network of state and district leaders dedicated to supporting policies that prioritize students’ needs. The group’s 39 members lead education systems that collectively have approximately 7.2 million students, 470,000 teachers and 14,140 schools. She is also a member of Education Leaders of Color, a membership organization dedicated to elevating the leadership, voices and influence of people of color in education. Additionally, Dr. Contreras serves on the executive council of the Council of the Great City Schools–made up of 76 of the nation’s largest school districts–and is founding co-chair of its Task Force on Black and Latina Young Women and Girls of Color. She is also a proud and active member of The Links Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. During her nearly 30 year career, Dr. Contreras has won countless awards for her civic work and leadership including: YWCA Champion of Opportunity Award; The Network Journal’s 25 Influential Women in Business Award; Interdenominational Ministers’ Alliance Drum Major for Social Justice Award; Nosotros Radio Latina of the Year; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Fortitude Award; the NAACP Community Award and the NAACP Freedom Award.
In 2019, Dr. Contreras was recognized by the North Carolina Parent Teacher Association (PTA) as the Superintendent of the Year. Recently, she was recognized by the Triad Business Journal as a 2020 C-Suite Award recipient. Dr. Contreras is the 2020 Piedmont Triad Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Contreras spends each day cultivating a remarkable legacy – ensuring improved life outcomes for all students, the only outcome that really matters.
“It’s about seeing every person for his or her humanity and the fullness of who you are. Seeing you as a human being.”
– Dr. Sharon Contreras