History of leadership


Sharon Cornu founded Opportunity Partners in 2012 to provide high-quality communications and management services to advocacy, non-profit and public organizations. Cornu is known for innovative, effective strategies, communications and collective impact. Two decades’ experience in advocacy to increase economic security and equity in development provide deep insight into winning while building stronger organizations.

Cornu co-founded a social enterprise print shop in Rhode Island in the early 1980s, which led to communications and political roles in the labor movement. In the 1990s, her websites and email newsletters won awards, and in the 2000s, her candidates won elections. An award-winning writer and spokesperson, she has secured client placements in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, KCBS, KQED, and NPR, and writes occasionally for OaklandLocal. As managing director for a statewide public affairs consultancy, she managed teams that produced successful community engagement campaigns in transportation, education, and workforce.

As executive officer of the 100,000 member Alameda Labor Council, she created innovative leadership, community organizing and electoral programs before being tapped to serve as National Field Director for the AFL-CIO in 2010. Returning to Oakland, Cornu was appointed to the Mayor’s Transition Working Group, and served as Deputy Mayor in 2011. Her leadership has been recognized by East Bay Housing Organizations (2009), Assemblymember Sandré Swanson’s Woman of the Year (2007), and Governor’s Minority Business of the Year (1991). She served as board member for the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, United Labor Bank and East Bay Economic Development Alliance.

Cornu has developed training and leadership programs, including a community college course that placed more than two dozen graduates in policymaking appointments. A magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, Cornu earned a masters degree in human services administration and communications at UMass/Boston. She has pursued studies in economics and social enterprise job creation at Mills College, Oakland. 


  • Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Unionist of the Year, 2011
  • East Bay Housing Organizations Visionary Leadership Award, 2009
  • Woman of the Year, 16th Assembly District / Hon. Sandré Swanson, 2007
  • No on Prop 73 (Parental Notification) Above & Beyond Award, 2006
  • Western Labor Communicators Association, Special Service, 2000
  • Governor’s Minority Business of the Year, RI SBDC, 1991


  • United Labor Bank, Oakland, CA, federal savings bank, Director, 2009 – 2010
  • Oakland Army Base Review Panel, Member, 2008 – 2009
  • Oakland Unified School District Audit Committee, Member, 2007 –  2010
  • East Bay Economic Development Alliance, Executive Committee, 2006 – 2010
  • National AFL-CIO: General Board; elected chair, Western Region and National CLC Advisory Committees; 2005 – 2010
  • Emerge women’s leadership program, Trainer, 2004 – 2008
  • Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee, 2003 – 2012; co-chair, Oakland United Democratic Campaign, 2004; chair, Executive Director search committee, 2012

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