Board of Commissioners Biographies
Sharif Walker, Commissioner
Sharif Walker is a change agent who is passionate about serving disadvantaged youth and revitalizing communities. Challenges and changes in family dynamics during his early childhood and adolescent years inspired him to become a community advocate dedicated to providing supportive environments that enable underserved youth on Chicago’s South and West Sides to thrive.
A certified youth development practitioner, Sharif’s 20+ year career in Chicago’s philanthropic sector includes stints at the Chicago Park District and managing multi-million-dollar budgets, strategic partnerships, and teams at the nationally recognized, out-of-school time organization, After School Matters®; providing programming to nearly 9,000 teenagers annually.
Sharif currently serves as President and CEO at Bethel New Life, Inc. where he has breathed life into the 40+ year old faith-based non-profit organization through a community centered vision to promote health and wellness for individuals and families of all ages through all stages of life on Chicago’s west side. Bethel is currently in the midst of a major capital fundraising effort to create the Mildred Wiley Wellness Hub. The project will redevelop Bethel’s 9-acre campus in the Austin community to increase the impact of the organization's wellness programs and initiatives.
Deeply committed to civic engagement, Sharif is the former board chair of Austin Coming Together and founded his own nonprofit organization, Pyramid Players Productions. Since 2015, Sharif has volunteered as a Youth Advisor for Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D-8th District), facilitating events and advising the office on issues impacting youth.
A well-respected community leader, Sharif has received multiple awards for his work including the Ember Award from the Black United Fund of Illinois and Planting Seeds of Change Award from Taproots, Inc.
Furthering his vision for stronger communities, Sharif created Ground Game Consulting, an entrepreneurial venture that provides strategic guidance to organizations and individuals seeking to change socioeconomic circumstances for youth and families in their local communities. Some of his clients include the Chicago Bulls, Austin Community Action Council, Austin Childcare Providers’ Network and the Austin Town Hall Park Advisory Council.
Sharif earned a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University (Missouri) and a master’s in organizational leadership from Lewis University. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a committed father and husband; Sharif resides in Chicago’s Austin community with his wife, Natasha and daughter, Morgan.
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