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Founder and CEO
Sharon Cohen founded Figure Skating in Harlem in 1997, seven years after she had a chance encounter with a group of East Harlem girls who were eager to learn how to figure skate. Having grown up in the world of competitive skating, Sharon jumped at the opportunity to revisit the ice and channel her passion for skating and education to help young girls learn about the discipline, perseverance, responsibility and goal setting she gleaned from her involvement in the sport.
Skating since the time she was 8 years old growing up in Delaware, Sharon was a United States Figure Skating (USFS) double gold medalist in figures and freestyle, and a gold level ice dancer who trained with Carlo Fassi, Ron Ludington and Arthur Bourque. She later attended Brown University, then moved to New York City to take a position in production at CBS News working with Dan Rather. It was during that time that she started to volunteer as a skating teacher to the growing number of girls in East Harlem who expressed interest. She also continued her education and earned a Master’s of Fine Arts at New York University. While producing several award winning short films and documentaries, she also worked with a group of committed and enthusiastic parents to formally establish Figure Skating in Harlem with education and health as the central focus, and girls from Upper Manhattan’s most underserved communities as the target audience. She put aside her filmmaking career to become the Executive Director of the only program in the nation that combines the power of education with the grace and discipline of figure skating to promote girls’ holistic youth development.
Recently named the first 2014 CNN Hero, an honor which pays tribute to “everyday people who are changing the world”, Sharon speaks frequently about the positive effects of combining education, fitness and emotional development to empower young women. She has been a guest speaker at Brown University’s Pembroke Center, at the Professional Skaters Association Ice Skating Institute and at National Fundraising Day, in 2013 she presented at the 15th International Olympic Committee World Conference on Sport for All in Lima, Peru, and was the winner of Maybelline’s Women Inspiring Confidence through Education award announce in People Magazine.