About Sharon

Sharon Rosen Leib

Sharon Rosen Leib is an independent journalist, 4th gen California Jewess and feminist mama of three young adult daughters. She’s been married to her uber-mensch husband Richard Leib for 32 years.

She majored in English Lit at UC Berkeley and enjoyed a freewheeling, politically engaged, neo-hippie lifestyle – studying abroad in England, youth hosteling across Europe, and working on an archaeological dig and writing press releases in Jerusalem.

Alas, that all came to a screeching halt when reality bit and she decided to attend law school at UCLA. She pulled many late nights, passed the California Bar and became a Deputy Attorney General in California’s Department of Justice. Immersing in the dark side of human nature as a criminal lawyer took a toll on her make-love-not-war soul. So after the birth of her third daughter, she abandoned the law for freelance journalism.

Her work has appeared in multiple media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR’s “California Dreaming” series, The Forward, Times of Israel and the nonfiction anthology “Seder Stories”.

Her recent essays about Hollywood’s Jewish founders went global – translated into Spanish, French, German and Hebrew and were referenced by multiple publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone.

She appeared in two short documentary films distributed by 20th Century Fox and at the 2022 Turner Classic Movies film festival in Hollywood discussing the life of her great-grandfather, Sol M. Wurtzel, a pioneer movie producer who developed the talents of Shirley Temple, Rita Hayworth, John Ford and many other luminaries.

Over the past decade, she won multiple San Diego Press Club awards. In 2021, the American Jewish Press Association recognized her work with a 1st Place Award for General Excellence – Best Freelancer.

Sharon loves nothing more than walking the beach; keeping up with the news; and laughing, exploring the world and cooking/eating with family and friends. She takes immense pleasure in watching her three daughters grow into kind, engaged and self-assured adults who no longer consider her an embarrassment. On the cusp of 60, she considers herself damn lucky.

“Writers are the opposite of silence.” 
—A.O. Kennedy

Five Things to Know About Me:

Any regrets about going to law school?

Other than having to pay off the student loans, absolutely not!
Law school taught me essential advocacy skills.
As a young Deputy Attorney General, I had the rare opportunity to argue two cases before the California Supreme Court. Proud to say I won both.
I also honed my writing skills and learned how to get to the heart of a matter without wasting words. Judges get impatient and I didn’t want to tick them off!

Your best volunteer experience?

For the past four years I’ve volunteered at the College Pathways Program at Casa de Amistad in Solana Beach. We help first-generation Hispanic high school students navigate the ridiculously complex college application process. I’ve always believed higher education provides the key that unlocks doors to a brighter future. The Casa crew empowers our students to know yes they can succeed! Seeing them go off to college prepared for the challenges ahead brings great satisfaction.

What did your parents teach you?

My father, a first generation American whose parents fled antisemitic violence in Ukraine, lovingly pushed my two siblings and me to become high-achieving professionals. End result – two physicians (my younger brother and sister) and a lawyer (me).
My mother, the granddaughter of a near-bankrupt movie mogul, was a self-described hedonist. She always reminded me “All work and no play, a dull girl makes.”
Both my parents died in their 60s (Dad at 63, Mom at 68) of rare forms of cancer.
Lessons learned: life can be short, work hard and do your best, but make plenty of time for family, friends, good food and travel.

How do you like your criticism?

Constructive, not stirred – as in stirring up bad vibes. I’ve worked with editors of all ages and levels of experience over the years. Every one of them has made me a better writer. However, I respond best to well-informed, specific criticism. As my career has advanced, I have little patience for overly general, destructive criticism. If you want my best writing, please tell me how to write it better in a kind way.

Most embarrassing moment?

The time 47-year-old me missed the ball and fell flat on my tush while playing kickball with a bunch of 5th graders. Back story: My youngest daughter’s teacher recruited me to play in an end-of-the-school-year game because one of the teams was short a player. When the teacher pitched me the ball, I kicked into thin air and lost my balance – Keystone Kops slip-on-a-banana peel style. The 5th graders burst out in laughter. After I recovered from the shock and brushed the dirt off my bum, I joined in. The teacher tried to be polite but couldn’t contain himself. He laughed too!
Lesson learned: I’m not as smart (5th grade math is tough) or as coordinated as a 5th grader!

Please shoot me an email if you are an editor with an intriguing freelance assignment; an agent interested in representing me; an organization/podcaster/host who'd like me to speak at an event or on Zoom; a friend or stranger who has written a book I might be interested in blogging about; someone with kind, constructive feedback or wise insights. I'd love to hear from you! I'll do my best to reply as soon as I'm able.

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