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Sharon Nyree Williams's footprint is stamped across most sidewalks leading through Seattle’s art scene. A self-described storyteller, Williams is most often found making pathways for others to also tell their stories. This North Carolina native knows what it feels like to knock on doors that seem sealed shut for people who look like her. But after a few doors opened for her in Seattle, her foot has remained firmly lodged in spaces to assure safe passage for others.

Black woman in red boots, black jeans and a jean jacked sits posing on the stairs of steps into a theatre
Image courtesy of the artist.

One would be hard-pressed to find stops through Seattle's art community and beyond that have not been touched by the physical or vocal presence of Williams. For over a decade, Sharon presided over the workings of CD Forum where she elevated and engaged hundreds of artists, providing them with space to create and expand, opportunities to produce works on their own terms, and readily sharing business advice on demand. As a holder of Master's degrees in Fine Arts and Business Administration, Sharon’s advice and guidance are a highly valued commodity. Her dynamic and signature voice is also highly valued. In between running things, making art, and guiding others, Sharon found time to lend her voice to the beautifully produced 2021 Kraken expansion draft promo video. In less than 3 minutes, Sharon’s voice created an impact that earned her an Emmy award.

It’s easy to understand the reach of Sharon Nyree Williams when looking at her website and the long list of descriptors. Artist, advocate, producer, presenter, professor, storyteller, collaborator, HBCU grad, Emmy award-winner (don’t forget that!), and finally but also most telling Sharon includes “values-based North Carolina upbringing, living the dream in Seattle.” It is this straightforwardness that lets you know that what you see is what you get, as well as a slightly blatant admission to being respectful and having good manners.

With her 10-plus-year tenure with CD Forum having come to an end, it is not the last we will see of this dynamic arts leader. Sharon is stepping into an interim leadership post at Spectrum Dance Theatre where she will join a longtime friend, artistic director Donald Byrd, in leading the organization through the remainder of its 40th season and perhaps beyond. While her voice is very strong, in this new position Sharon is eager to listen. Her first order of business is to learn, “what are the hopes and dreams for Spectrum’s future." Williams shared her excitement for the chance to work with “friend and peer” Donald Byrd and noted their relationship as her motivation for accepting this new opportunity. “I want to be of service to him and the artistic legacy he brings to the community,” said Williams.

With a legacy of service already logged by Williams, we are certain her desires will be fulfilled. Check out more of Sharon Nyree Williams’ story through Crosscut's Black Arts Legacies profile.

*Images courtesy of Sharon Nyree Williams


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