Claire Sheridan's primary passions are dance and the advancement of the performing arts. Upon her arrival at SMC, she laid the foundations for the betterment of these art forms and enhanced their presence on campus. Sheridan founded the Dance Program at SMC, opening up the doors of artistic expression to the Saint Mary's community. Claire also founded LEAP (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals), the Bachelor of Arts degree program specifically designed for current and former professional dancers (with centers in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). She is currently a LEAP faculty member and highlights the program as one of the things she is most proud of in her life, because "it honors professional dancers, and it's an effective model of education."

Sheridan is grateful for the preparatory tools her education at SMC provided her with, saying that "the degree work gave me confidence, credentials, and better communication skills." And teaching at SMC gave her a sense of community as well as the support and freedom to develop new projects.

Sheridan has devoted a large part of her career to teaching dance internationally, including Russia (St. Petersburg Conservatory), England (Cambridge University), Prague (Charles University), and at academies and colleges in India, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Palestine, Bosnia, Ukraine, and most recently, Bangladesh. Those experiences enabled her to "bring the joy of dance to diverse groups of people and, at the same time, learn how to personally adapt and survive in different cultures."

Sheridan's legacy is a testament to the value of hard work and commitment to your passions. She describes the best advice she was ever given in three words: "Dignity for All." With that idea at the core of her work, she has become one of SMC's most influential women.

See other Women of Influence

40 Years/One Night, a "Gaela" celebration recognizing the 40 Influential Women of Saint Mary's, will be held on Sat., Nov. 6 in the Soda Center. It begins with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner, a raffle and a silent auction. The keynote speaker will be Kristine Carlson, co-author of the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series. Go to stmarys-ca.edu/womeninphil for tickets and more information.

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