Mary Sharpe moved to Brevard County from Oklahoma 25 years ago. Her future husband was on a special assignment at Tinker Air Force Base with The Boeing Company and convinced her to move to Florida. Sharpe was part of the business development team for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and moved into the economic development world of Brevard County. She served as chairman of the board of the Canaveral Council of Technical Societies, chairman of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau, and administrative director of the Florida Space Business Roundtable. One of the highlights of her career was being part of the Station and Shuttle Utilization Reinvention team. The team was chartered to evaluate the Station and Shuttle utilization process to determine where NASA could increase focus on the research/user customer, simplify and improve the processes, and maximize utilization research productivity. Final recommendations were approved by NASA’s Executive Council, and the team received a Group Achievement Award from NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe.

In 2015 Sharpe received a call from the Senior Director of Continuing Education at Florida Institute of Technology, Cindy Schmitt. Schmitt asked her if she would be interested in working for the university as a project coordinator for the Lifelong Scholar Society.

The Lifelong Scholar Society is a membership-driven organization funded by FIT. The school’s professors present twice a month on subjects ranging from music, art, literature, history, campus research and new technology. The goal is to keep the mature population intellectually engaged without sitting in a classroom. In partnership with the Foreign Policy Association, Sharpe also implemented a Great Decisions program — a dinner discussion group that meets once a month on a topic of global interest.


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