As a lifelong educator, Sharon Contreras is a teacher at heart, a transformational leader and a passionate advocate for children. Dr. Contreras made history in August 2016 as the first woman, first person of Latina heritage, and the second African-American superintendent of Guilford County Schools. She has been honored regionally, state-wide and nationally for her work to close achievement gaps and accelerate learning by expanding opportunity for all students. Under her guidance, Guilford County also approved a historic investment of $2 billion in school facility improvements and greatly expanded career technical education and Advanced Placement programs. GCS’s high-dosage tutoring initiative and high school learning hubs, developed during the COVID pandemic, are considered national models for addressing learning loss. Dr. Contreras says about her tenure in Guilford County, “I have been singularly focused on one goal – to improve the life outcomes of every single student.”

Dr. Contreras earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis and a master’s in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in English literature and English education and a bachelor’s in English literature from the State University of New York at Binghamton. In August 2022, Dr. Contreras stepped down as the superintendent from Guilford County Schools to become the Chief Executive Officer of The Innovation Project, a nonprofit collaborative working group of innovative North Carolina school district superintendents and their teams.