Alumni Accomplishments

Empowered and Restored

Sharman Davenport has created programs and initiatives for the most vulnerable in our communities

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Photo Credit: Rob Hall

icon of a calendarSeptember 19, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Patti Johnson Georgevich

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In 1980, Turning Point, a nonprofit organization providing services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, was founded in Mount Clemens.

That same year, Sharman Davenport, CAS ’80, Ph.D., graduated from Oakland University with her bachelor’s degree in psychology, poised for a career in the nonprofit sector.

Today, Dr. Davenport is president and CEO of Turning Point. The organization provides critical advocacy programs and resources so survivors of domestic and sexual violence regain control of their lives.

“Turning Point helps more than 3,000 people each year, provides emergency shelter, connections and resources to more than 500 women and children and answers more than 11,000 crisis calls,” she says.

After graduating from OU, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Wayne State University. Dr. Davenport moved to Salt Lake City to serve as prevention and mental health services director at Centro de la Familia, administering therapeutic and family support services for low-income families.

Returning to Michigan in 1999, she joined Lighthouse of Oakland County — serving 17 years as vice president of programs and then chief program officer.

“We developed a Montessori Center for homeless children, a transitional housing program for homeless young mothers and a high school completion program,” she says. “I’m proud of the work we did. My long tenure at Lighthouse prepared me for my transition to Turning Point.”

Dr. Davenport joined Turning Point as president and CEO in 2018, leading the organization to fulfill its mission: empower survivors through comprehensive services and resources while advocating for community action to end oppression and violence. 

Soon after becoming CEO, she realized survivors needed a safe place to live after they left the shelter. Dr. Davenport wanted survivors “to feel empowered to start new lives free from violence.”

After seeking and securing funding, Turning Point’s Housing Programs began in October 2020. Since then, the organization has provided safe and affordable housing for about 40 families.

“We didn’t want survivors returning to their abusers because they had no place else to go,” Dr. Davenport says.

With nearly 70 full- and part-time employees, Turning Point offers an array of supportive and essential services, including emergency shelter, counseling, financial education, career coaching and more.

“Turning Point supports survivors during their entire healing journey,” Dr. Davenport says. “We want them to know they’re never alone.”

Turning Point also has programs for “secondary survivors” with Dr. Davenport explaining, “it’s not uncommon for those close to the survivor to be impacted by their loved one’s assault.”

She says Turning Point’s preventative programs address the root causes of domestic and sexual violence.

“Through our prevention and advocacy work, we’re building just communities where these crimes are rare, the victims are supported and have resources to heal and the abusers are held accountable,” says Dr. Davenport. 

She received the Macomb County Chamber’s Athena Award in 2021, celebrating the contributions of individuals who actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential. She calls receiving the award as “an incredible honor.”

Ilene Bischer, Turning Point’s chair of the board of directors, feels deeply about Dr. Davenport’s leadership.

“Sharman sees community needs and assertively seeks to fill those gaps by securing funding and building capacity in her staff — all to improve outcomes for survivors,” says Bischer. “She’s an exceptional leader. I’m proud to be part of the amazing growth in services and programs she’s accomplished since becoming CEO.”

After Dr. Davenport’s return to Michigan, she’s connected with OU in many ways. She’s worked with OU’s Alumni Association and its Black Alumni Chapter, serving on the affiliate chapter’s outreach and membership committees as well as revamping its reclamation and recruitment strategies. A year after, she was elected the chapter’s vice president and, in 2017, became its president. She’s also passionate about mentoring and empowering young adults, creating pathways for OU alumni and undergraduate students to connect. She’s placed many OU students for internships at Turning Point. In 2018, she received OU’s Alumni Community Service Award.

The mother of two sons, Kurtis, an attorney, and Adam, a recent OU graduate (’20), believes in Turning Point’s important role advocating for the vulnerable in our community.

“Turning Point has helped more than 120,000 people since its founding. We don’t do this work alone. We want a just and equitable society free of this violence. A community working together can make a difference,” Dr. Davenport says.

Turning Point’s 24-hour hotline is (586) 463-6990.

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