After receiving degrees in applied mathematics and physics from Ohio State, Sharon Bonner-Brown became an early leader in the computer industry. She has held leadership positions at Miami University, Marathon Oil Company, Fairchild Camera & Instrument, Levi Strauss, and Apple Computer, and she founded Learning Street, USA.
At Miami University, Ms. Bonner-Brown worked closely with faculty to identify ways that technology could enhance their research initiatives. From the University, she joined Marathon Oil Company, one of the university’s industry partners. At Marathon, Ms. Bonner-Brown developed advanced computer models to help further the company’s international oil exploration efforts. Subsequently, Marathon moved her into a leadership role within the company’s blossoming computer division.
In 1976, an unsolicited offer from Silicon Valley brought Ms. Bonner-Brown from Ohio to California. She went on to serve in leadership roles at Fairchild Camera & Instrument, Levi Strauss and Apple Computer. Each experience was transformative in its own unique way, but none as impactful as her time with Apple Computer. As CIO of Apple, Ms. Bonner-Brown worked with Mike Markkula, John Sculley and Steve Jobs to help execute their vision for the rapidly growing company. The fast paced, “Think Different” culture, was easy to embrace and lead to a seismic shift in her thinking about technology’s role in our global community.
Inspired by the work being done by Apple and Children’s Television Workshop, Ms. Bonner-Brown left Apple, and with the help of Apple, founded Learning Street, USA. One of the early private companies to provide computer enrichment programs for young children and their parents, she went on to lead the company for more than 20 years. More recently, Ms. Bonner-Brown has served as an observer on Central Garden & Pet’s Board of Directors as well as continuing as a consultant on special projects. Founded by her husband in the early 80’s, the company is a multi-billion-dollar business. Currently, Ms. Bonner-Brown is championing the commercialization of a new synthetic antimicrobial that has the potential to help eliminate antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans.
Ms. Bonner-Brown’s decision to move west had a profound impact on her personally as well as professionally. Shortly after arriving in California, Ms. Bonner-Brown met her future husband, Bill Brown, UC Berkeley B.S. IEOR ’66, at a San Francisco Technology Summit. Sharon often refers to herself as an “adopted Bear.” Their daughter Sarah earned her B.A. from Berkeley in 2002.
The Browns enjoy participation in a variety of university programs including Builders of Berkeley and the Charter Hill Society. They have four grown children and 11 grandchildren and reside in Danville, California.
At Berkeley, in addition to serving on the Board of Visitors, Ms. Bonner-Brown serves on the UC Berkeley's Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Founding Advisory Board of the Haas School of Business as well as the College of Engineering’s Joint Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program.