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MPA alumnus named Columbus Foundation Vice President

Emily Delaney
April 27, 2017

Of all the aspects of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Ohio University’s Voinovich School, Dan Sharpe valued the balance between curriculum and academic research the most.

“The program wasn’t theoretical. It was practical,” Sharpe, a 2011 graduate of the Executive MPA program, said.

In March 2017, Sharpe was named vice president for community research and grants management at the Columbus Foundation. He has worked with the foundation since 2004, beginning as an intern while obtaining his undergraduate degree in politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Established in 1943 to improve the community and quality of life in central Ohio, the Columbus Foundation has become the seventh largest community foundation in the world. In his new role, Sharpe works to encourage community discussion and form partnerships to address needs. Additionally, Sharpe will now oversee the implementation of grant policies and strategic grantmaking.

“A large amount of my work involves learning about community needs, out in neighborhoods learning from people who have their boots on the ground,” said Sharpe. His day-to-day work involves community outreach and communication with donors.

Sharpe has worked with many departments within the organization over the years. He previously served as the online media manager for communications and marketing and most recently worked as director for community leadership and nonprofit effectiveness. Yet, his experience has continuously involved working within communities.

His early experiences with community development encouraged him to find ways he could best use his skills in community involvement. “That’s where the MPA program came into play,” said Sharpe. Being able to continue to work with the Columbus Foundation while enrolled in the program allowed him to immediately implement his learnings.

“I do recall Floun’say Caver's performance measurement class to be most helpful, and immediately so,” Sharpe said. “The class discussed strategy, and the balanced scorecard. Combining those tools, along with strategic models, I was able to bring them right back with me from the residency weekend, and put them to work,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe still enjoys keeping in touch with his former classmates and doing what he can to give back to the MPA program, whether it involves holding informational interviews or helping students network and think about their next career moves.

On being welcomed back to the Voinovich School itself, Sharpe said, “I was even invited back to be a guest speaker for one of Judy Millisen’s classes! That was a blast.”