Sharon Ratliffe received her bachelors degree in speech from Western Michigan University in 1963. She earned the M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1973) in Speech Communication from Wayne State University. She received a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (1984) from the University of California, Irvine. Sharon taught at Western Michigan University (1965-1976), Ambassador College in Pasadena CA (1976-78), and Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA (1980-1997), where she served as Director of Staff Development during the ten-year period prior to her retirement in 1997. She was also visiting professor at the University of Southern California (1978) and taught at several community colleges in Southern California on an adjunct basis. During her career, Sharon held leadership roles in professional associations including president and secretary general of the World Communication Association; president of the National Communication Association; president of the National Council for Staff, Program, and Organizational Development; president and executive secretary of the Michigan Association of Speech Communication; and executive secretary of the California Speech Association. Sharon has authored or co-authored seven textbooks in communication education, group discussion, interpersonal communication, professional sales, and learning English as a second language. In addition, she has co-produced six video learning packages. She has also written several chapters, booklets, and articles. In addition, Sharon served as editor/ associate editor of Communication Education, Leadership, The Speech Communication Teacher, The Staff Development News, The Staff Development Newsletter, and The Western Journal of Speech Communication.
During her distinguished career, Sharon has received recognition in numerous ways, a few of which are: Outstanding Alumni Award, Arts and Sciences Division, Western Michigan University (1999); Distinguished Service Award, National Communication Association (1998); Glen Schmidt Service Award, National Council for Staff, Program, and Organizational Development (1998); Leadership Award, California Community College Council for Staff Development (1996); Master Teacher Award, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (1986, 1987); featured in the Teachers on Teaching Series, National Communication Association (1989); Distinguished Service and Honorary Life Membership Award, Michigan Association of Speech Communication (1978); Outstanding Young Teacher Award, Central States Speech Communication Association (1970); Honorary Member, Theta Alpha Phi (1967).