“Sharif has a keen and personal grasp of all our potential with a deep respect our community roots,” says Board Chair Andy Curtis of Northern Trust. “The board and founding leaders who joined in our executive search unanimously recognized Sharif’s rigor, vision and drive to take Bethel New Life into is next era, honoring community connections and ready to leverage our convening power to deepen equity on the West Side and Chicago-wide.”
Sharif is the former board chair of Austin Coming Together, founded the not-for-profit Pyramid Players Productions (P3) and volunteers as a Youth Advisor for Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D- 8th District), advising the office on issues impacting youth. A well-respected community leader, Sharif has received multiple awards including the Black United Fund of Illinois’ Ember Award.
“Congratulations to Bethel New Life and all its community in this engagement. Sharif leads WITH the community always-- from ensuring youth voice in various counsels to connecting the Austin community with LISC Quality of Life Plan work -- Sharif understands the imperative of engaging and tracking the pulse of the community and vital necessity of integrating community input into planned or proposed initiatives if these are to be responsible and sustainable,” says Dr. David A. Ansell, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity, Rush University Medical Center and Associate Provost for Community Affairs, Rush University. “Sharif is the right leader to have on board to connect Bethel services programs and its community to the momentum on the West Side and the growing coalition’s work to improve the life expectancy of West Side residents.”
Sharif earned his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Missouri and his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Lewis University. He is a certified youth development practitioner and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Trainer. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a committed father and husband; Sharif resides in Chicago’s Austin community with his wife, Natasha and daughter, Morgan.
Sharif succeeds Vauna Hernández, who has served in leadership with Bethel New Life for nearly a decade and as President and CEO since 2018. In this transition, Vauna has been nominated and elected to the Bethel New Life Board of Directors, and she accepted her service term effective immediately following her staff tenure, September 1, 2020.
“Vauna has been an exceptional CEO who leads with phenomenal passion for the community we serve, and whose determination, long-view and people skills are why Bethel is in its strong position today,” says Bethel New Life Founder Mary Nelson. “Sharif brings the programming expertise, vision and drive to lead our lean and agile organization and community institution at a critical time for non-profit resilience, economic rebuilding, and Black prosperity. In our search, Sharif stood out as the most exceptional fit for Bethel New Life and our future Creating Safe, Healthy and Vibrant Communities.”