Sharon Hawkins Leyden, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has been active in the field of social work for the past 30 years. Throughout her career, her work has focused on raising people out of poverty. She started in Hartford, CT, as an advocate and counselor in a family homeless shelter and later co-ran a program in the Midwest aimed at helping young mothers with small children transition back into the workforce. Sharon moved to the West Coast in 1996 where she was employed as a psychotherapist for children predominately in the foster care system. Eight years later, she co-founded YEAH! (Youth, Engagement, Advocacy & Housing), a homeless shelter for youth aged 18-25. As founding Executive Director of that organization, Sharon spent a decade building a clinical program and advocating in the community for the needs of homeless transitional age youth. In 2015, she joined forces with BFHP as Director of Client Services. In addition to overseeing all the agency’s programs, Sharon has a leading role in helping to implement the City of Berkeley’s homeless system’s change – a new model that seeks to prioritize the most vulnerable of its residents: those with disabilities who have been homeless for the longest amount of time.
Sharon co-chaired the City of Berkeley’s Sub-Committee on Homeless Youth, was a member of the working team on the Mental Health Services Act of California, and was one of 8 women awarded an “Outstanding Woman of the Year” award in in 2004 for service to better the lives of persons living in Berkeley.
She is married with a daughter and lives in Berkeley, CA. In her spare time she volunteers for a health organization in Nepal and catches up on sleep.