Blog |

In Memory: Sharon McLaughin Gowen

February 28, 2024

With deep sadness we share the news that our beloved former colleague, Sharon McLaughlin Gowen, died on Saturday, February 17, 2024 after a long illness. 

Sharon was a founding member of the Community Solutions team in 2011. She had led the Hartford, CT-based work of our predecessor organization, and when the decision was made to create a new, national organization with the big ambition to help entire communities make homelessness rare and brief, Sharon jumped in to help.

Sharon grew up in the Greater Hartford area, and devoted her talents to making a stable home a reality for everyone. Working initially in mortgage banking, she ultimately played a senior role at Fannie Mae’s Connecticut office. There her work helped to expand the availability of homes to moderate income families. She retired from that position with thoughts of travel and more time for quilting, but our ad seeking a director for the affordable apartment building we were restoring in downtown Hartford caught her eye. That was the end of Sharon’s first retirement. Her deep knowledge of the housing industry, extensive local relationship network and rapport with the building’s tenants and neighbors made the building a success. Sharon was instrumental in all areas of our Hartford work as it expanded to include economic development and other strategies to prevent homelessness in some of Hartford’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Sharon would take on anything and help anyone. She was direct, incisive, discerning, smart, funny and did not suffer fools. As we prepared to launch Community Solutions, Sharon, who was always surprising us with the range of things she knew how to do-quilt, odd repairs, genealogy, stare down a contractor- offered to get our IT system up and running, which she proceeded to do. In her time at CS, she offered endlessly practical and wise mentoring to several junior colleagues, helping to foster careers in a variety of fields. (if you want to go funny: She helped us all to discern whether anyone was “all hat and not cattle”. When she retired once and for all, in 2012, Sharon continued to be our supporter and cheerleader.

We are immensely grateful for Sharon, her friendship and for her contributions to Community Solutions. Our condolences go out to Sharon’s family and many friends.