by Meredith Bernstein
Five weeks ago, Sharon Kim became the new managing director of the Mt. Airy Community Development Corporation. Like many, Kim discovered her ideal profession after she graduated from college and had a few jobs.
Kim earned a degree in communications at the University of Pennsylvania with the hopes of becoming a movie producer. With no desire to move to New York or LA, she swapped producing for law. After just two years of law school, however, Kim realized that she wasn’t satisfied with her choice.
“I went into contract administration and realized that I wasn’t really fulfilled professionally,” Kim said. “I started volunteering at nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanities, an educational nonprofit, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, and the Penn alumni team. I finally felt like I was making some sort of a difference in someone’s life.”
In the short time that Kim worked with these organizations, she proved her natural talent in the field of nonprofit development. She was recruited to be on the board at East Mt. Airy Neighbors, the young professionals advisory board at Habitat for Humanity, and even became the treasurer at Habitat for Humanity.
“I really enjoyed what I was doing – it was awesome that I found nice building relationships,” Kim said.
After learning about an open position at Mt. Airy CDC, Kim leaped forward at the opportunity.
“When I was looking for a new job, it was difficult because a lot of nonprofits only address one thing,” she explained. “That’s why [the CDC] was kind of a perfect fit. The CDC had addressed several of my interests at once.
“Our goal at the CDC is to advance diversity through four areas: housing counseling, community programming, business services, and real estate development. The CDC also partners with the six public schools in the area to improve early childhood education.”
Kim recently made the move from West Philadelphia to Mt. Airy and is excited to address the needs of her own community while also improving Mt. Airy’s physical surroundings.
“I love the feeling that I am improving my own neighborhood – my own corner of the world” Kim said.
She has aggressive plans to address some of the neighborhood’s greatest concerns. Out of all of her goals, Kim is most excited about managing the 2025 plan. It’s a huge 10-year strategic plan – a hefty undertaking for anyone, especially a newcomer.
“One concern that the neighborhood had was public safety,” Kim said. “They want to have a Town Watch or to partner with existing Town Watch organizations. They also want to improve public schools in the area, so we partnered with an organization to address earlier education and literacy. These are just small ways, small things you can do to truly affect change. I definitely plan on achieving each one of these miniature goals and plans.”
With these goals still in mind, Kim also aims to inform the local community about the CDC. She emphasized that there is not enough awareness around what the CDC is and what they do.
To remedy this, Kim said that Mt. Airy CDC needs “to get to remote areas and extend the programming further – this can make the CDC and what we do known to more people.”
With great passion and reward in the work that she does, Kim looks forward to each new day. She has embraced her new role as the managing director, galvanizing the community to promote diversity and neighborhood relationships.
“We hold events designed to bring the neighborhood together by utilizing public spaces.”
Kim wants to generate real, meaningful change, and she believes that she can do just that as the CDC’s managing director.
“If you want to really affect change, I think the best way to do that is to work in small ways in your own corner of the world,” Kim said. “If everyone did that, the city would become a lot better.”
Meredith Bernstein is a summer intern at the Local.