Socialite Spotlight: Sean Sheppard

(L-R) Jerry Tarkanian, Retired UNLV Basketball Coach and Embrace Spokesperson and Sean Sheppard, Founder and CEO of Embrace

In keeping with our June issue’s theme of celebrating men, this week’s Socialite Spotlight highlights Sean Sheppard.  Sean is the founder and CEO of the Embrace program, which mobilizes college students to assist less fortunate members of civilian and veteran communities.  Sean earned an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from San Diego State University. Later, Sheppard embarked upon a ten (10) year coaching career in the field of strength and conditioning with stops at San Diego State University, Kansas State University and Boston College before ending his coaching career as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at The Ohio State University.  Sean has been fortunate to have had coached players such as Marshall Faulk, Az Hakeem, Dikembe Mutombo, Michael Redd and a host of others.  His coaching career was highlighted by an appearance in the 1999 Final Four with Ohio State, a Big East Championship with Boston College (1996) and a Big Ten Championship while at Ohio State (2000).

It was during his coaching stint at Ohio State that he realized that diversity is a passion that needs to be addressed once and for all.  With Sheppard being of mixed descent and being raised in multiracial environments, the abundance of racial diversity that led to success on the playing fields was not lost on him.  The lack of diversity in athletic and academic positions did not escape his notice either. It was this imbalance that caused him to not only delve into diversity issues outside of sports, but to write about them as well.  In the spring of 2000, Sheppard wrote a nationally published article that focused on how to increase diversity in the workplace; it’s practical and moral benefits and how to implement change.  The article caught the attention of many people in and outside of sports, but most importantly, raised the level of consciousness on the issue.  To date, it has been Sheppard’s legacy as an advocate for diversity.  The ideas and passion for positive change within the body of work proved that along with being a successful coach, Sheppard proved himself to be one of the most creative minds in this country as it relates to diversity implementation.

Sean proving water to needy child.

In 2007, Sean began volunteering his time to serve the homeless once a week with the San Diego Chargers and soon discovered that he had a passion for volunteerism and improving the lives of the homeless population.  In 2009, Sheppard wrote another article that caught the eye of several local businessmen, city council members and foundations that outlined the practical, cost-saving benefits of formally utilizing college student volunteers to improve the community.  His Embrace program is now connecting San Diego State University and local government, through funding from The California Endowment, to create a community outreach/service learning model that utilizes college students to remedy a plethora of community problems on a volunteer basis.  He has begun working with California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R) to create California legislation that mandates community service from all students that attend state funded schools.

Embrace Volunteers and Participants

Through its School-based wellness, CommYOUnity Chefs, H3 (Healing Our Heroes’ Homes) and Embrace The Streets programs, Embrace attracts thousands of college students and recent graduates in the Southern California area to serve the homeless and homeless veterans several times per week and to restore the homes of wounded veterans.  True to Sheppard’s diversity roots, the program touts itself as possessing the most diverse volunteer student base in the region, attracting students from all  ethnic and religious groups, all in the name of serving those in need.  Embrace is the only nonprofit organization in San Diego that brings Jewish and Muslim students together to serve the community.

Embrace has a garnered a total of 10 community service awards during its 7 years of opperation.   In March, 2011, Sheppard received community service recognition from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.  In May, 2011, he received community service recognition for the work Embrace does to impact the veteran community from the newly launched National Women Veterans Association of America, and in June, 2011, Sheppard was named an honorary member of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers (9th and 10th Calvary), an extremely rare award.

Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd

Most notably, earlier this month, Sherri Shepherd, co-host of “The View,” made a special wedding request on the show.  Shepherd announced in lieu of gifts for her upcoming wedding, guests make a donation to EMBRACE to support Sean’s efforts in helping homeless veterans and civilians.





To learn more about Embrace visit


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