Global Connections hires new executive director

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Global Connections, a community-based, nonprofit organization affiliated with the United Way of Centre County and Penn State, has hired Xiangyou “Sharon” Shen as its new executive director.

Born in China, Shen earned a doctorate in health and human development from Penn State and has been a longtime resident of central Pennsylvania. She brings in-depth understanding of the needs and challenges of internationals, as well as insights on the profound benefits and rewards of enriched cultural living for both foreigners and locals.

“Having personally benefited from Global Connections’ services as a volunteer Conversation Partner, I deeply appreciate and firmly believe in the great value of what this organization does and stands for,” she said. “I am thrilled at this opportunity to work with the dedicated Global Connections staff and volunteers to promote intercultural interactions and understanding, and to build a strong community across diverse cultures. Connections start with contact. It is my goal to increase the reach of our service even further by bringing cultural engagement opportunities to more people and, ultimately, to foster global awareness, cultural sensitivity, acceptance and competence in our increasingly diverse community.”

Shen, who started July 25, replaces Marc McCann, who accepted a position as internship director in the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

A community-based, nonprofit affiliated with Penn State and the United Way of Centre County, Global Connections aims to strengthen the cultural fabric of the community through partnerships, service, education and advocacy.

Shen is the founder and principal researcher of Inno-Solution Research LLC and a guest researcher for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She has taught at universities; conducted cross-cultural research; procured funding from government, universities, companies, and nongovernmental organizations; and provided expert consulting services in program evaluation and international development of education programs.

For more information on Global Connections, which is housed in 314 Boucke Building, go to

Sharon Shen Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated September 12, 2016