Sharon Jarrett Thacker: Leader, Visionary, Unicorn

During the board meeting when our President and CEO Sharon Jarrett Thacker announced her pending retirement, a board member asked about our Unicorn Day celebration.

Sharon let the board know that people who work in non-profits are very fond of the mythical creature. That’s why we celebrated Unicorn Day in April with such gusto. According to Wikipedia, unicorns have magical powers to render poisoned water potable and heal sickness. Known to make the impossible possible, it is no wonder non-profit workers–particularly social workers–feel the unicorn is their spirit animal.

It is particularly no wonder that Sharon is drawn to the beauty, grace and vision of the unicorn. Through her long career in direct service, program development, management and organizational strategy, Sharon has always focused on leaving people, organizations and communities better than she found them.

That is certainly true for her impact on the Roanoke Valley, Family Service, and the people who work and receive services here.

“You have given so many years of faithful service to families and children over the years! It’s wonderful to have the chance to begin an exciting next phase in life,” a former colleague said on hearing her exciting news.

Yes, our own unicorn leader has decided to follow her path onto the next stage. She will continue serving the community through June 2019, but made her formal announcement last week to the board and staff, and has been sharing the news with community partners this week.

“I make this announcement with great excitement and deep gratitude, knowing the leadership within our organization is strong and your support will endure through the coming changes,” Sharon said in her announcement letter.

Sharon joined Family Service of Roanoke Valley in 2012, after serving 22 years as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at United Family Services in Charlotte, NC. She worked at United Family Services as Director of Training and Development prior to becoming COO.

In addition to her leadership of Family Service, Sharon also teaches graduate students in the non-profit certificate and Masters of Public Administration program at Bellevue University and serves as an Accreditation Commissioner for the Council on Accreditation.

Originally from Roanoke and a graduate of Northside High School, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from East Tennessee State University and Master of Science in Social Work from University of Tennessee.

Sharon lived in Charlotte, NC for much of her career. Her daughter Lindsey still lives there, and that’s where Sharon plans to return once she finishes her work at Family Service.

From our board, leadership team, and staff–we share our deepest gratitude to Sharon. We also dedicate the next eight months to honoring her service to the community, keeping up the hard work we do every day, and being the most magical unicorns we can be!