Sharon Samuels Reed began her professional career as a music educator with Peoria Public Schools in 1972. After teaching for 22 years, mostly at Woodruff High School, she continued her professional service as Chairperson of Cultural Studies at Pekin Community High School. After retiring in 2008, Reed served Peoria Public Schools for several years as the Director of Fine Arts. Additionally, she served as Administrator of Peoria Public School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. While working as an arts educator and administrator, she founded The Heritage Ensemble, which exists to celebrate the culture and history of African Americans through music. For over 20 years the ensemble has worked to tear down walls and build bridges between all people by exposing people of all cultures to the diversity, beauty, richness, and complexity of musical literature born out of the African American experience. In the past three years, she has led a collaboration with the Peoria Chapter of the NAACP in the nationally based Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program.