Reverend Sharon Washington Risher was catapulted into the limelight after the Charleston, South Carolina shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Her beloved mother — the church’s sexton — Ethel Lee Lance, was killed along with eight others, including two cousins and a childhood friend.
Since that horrific tragedy, Sharon has been very outspoken about the nation’s gun laws and is one of the national spokespersons for the grassroots advocacy groups Everytown and Moms Demand Gun Sense.
Audiences nationwide are saying that Reverend Risher’s talks are incredibly powerful, emotional, riveting, raw and authentic, and each of her talks cover her personal experience losing loved ones to gun violence, race, racism and hate in America, as well as the path to forgiveness and an offering of hope for tomorrow.
She has appeared multiple times on CNN, and was interviewed by Time Magazine, Marie-Claire, Essence, Guardian- BCC radio, among others. She visited President Barak Obama at the White House on several occasions, and has been a guest speaker for several Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial events.
The Charleston, South Carolina native was graduated from Charles A. Brown High School and from Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina. After discerning a call to vocational ordained ministry in 2002 while attending St. Paul Presbyterian Church in North Carolina she relocated to Austin, TX where she later received a Master of Divinity Degree in 2007 from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
Reverend Risher worked in hospital chaplaincy for several years, most recently as a staff chaplain and trauma specialist, with Parkland Hospital of Dallas, TX. Today, Sharon is traveling the country as an activist and speaker, and is working on writing a book.
Sharon has two grown children, Howard Brandon and Aja Sharnee, who both live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Rev. Risher was wonderful! She has a down-to-earth style, and is very emotional/passionate about her experiences and those yet to come. I would highly recommend her to other institutions if you need a reference. Thanks for recommending her!!” – Dr. L. Jay Burlingame, Associate Director, Division of Student Affairs – Penn State Altoona, Altoona College
“Your remarkable lecture reminded each and every one of us about the value of life and the power of love.” – Cassandra Davis, SGA President – Temple University
“Sharon was excellent last night….the audience loved her…” – Dr. Wanda Lewis-Campbell, Assistant Dean for Student Life – Temple University Ambler
“WOW! Sharon was absolutely amazing. She was truly a gift to our campus community. We had about 200 people attend her talk and it was a fully engaged crowd. You could truly hear a pin drop. She was thoughtful, gracious, and a joy to work with. She was flexible with us and did her best to talk and hug every person that wanted to meet her! Everything was perfect… ” – Constanza A. Cabello, Director of Intercultural Affairs – Stonehill College
“Reverend Sharon Risher was the featured speaker for our 2016 MLK observance at Limestone College. Her mother, Ethel Lance, was one of the victims of the Charleston church shooting. She gave a remarkably honest and very moving presentation about her own grief. She told of having seen and heard Dr. King when she was a young girl growing up in Charleston; and simply by telling her story allowed the listeners to realize the obvious connection between Dr. King’s work and this horrific manifestation of racial hatred.” – Ron Singleton, Chaplain – Limestone College0