Trent Sharp

Principal TA Consultant

Trent Sharp is a principal consultant at AIR where he supports cross-disciplinary systems change efforts in the Education Systems and Workforce Program Areas and in Technology Solutions. He is passionate about designing and leading user-centered approaches to addressing complex challenges and inspiring collective action. Grounded in over two decades of experience as a practitioner and applied researcher in the education and workforce sectors, Dr. Sharp specializes in guiding cross-sectoral collective impact initiatives, leading mixed-methods action research studies, designing place-based interventions, facilitating behavioral insights and human-centered design sprints, and infusing participatory research methods into large-scale strategic planning efforts.

Dr. Sharp leads AIR’s Workforce Innovations and Learning hub and its emergent strategies service line. He also founded and supports AIR’s geographic information systems (GIS) team and specializes in the use of spatial data to inform place-based research and technical assistance. His current portfolio centers on improving access, opportunities, and outcomes along the full spectrum of the education to workforce pipeline. Examples of his recent work includes engaging employers and staff at Nebraska’s Department of Labor in a behavioral insights and human-centered design training focused on improving employers’ experiences with the unemployment insurance tax system. Concurrently, he led regional mixed-methods action research studies focused on the accessibility of adult education, English as a second language (ESL), and workforce development services in the Greater Houston region, the Permian Basin, and the State of Nevada. He facilitated human-centered systems design sprints on behalf of Coursera and IBM to explore the potential of their digital learning platforms to improve user outcomes in workforce development, adult education, and K12 settings. Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Sharp co-led the COVID-19 and Equity in Education (CEE) Research Practice Partnership Network and supporting data visualization and storytelling for the CEE longitudinal database.

Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Sharp served for 14 years as an educator where he was privileged to work alongside numerous communities as a teacher, founding turnaround principal, and district reform director. His research interests include spatial and virtual injustice and the equity implications of smart technologies for learning, work, and well-being.

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Ph.D., Education Policy and Practice; M.A., Curriculum and Instruction; M.A., Education Administration; and B.A., English, University of Texas at Austin. Post-graduate studies in human-centered design at the Hasso-Platner School of Design, Stanford University.