Board Member Sharon Barner

Sharon Barner

Sharon Barner is an international business leader and lawyer with more than 30 years of experience assisting public and privately held technology, automotive and life sciences companies to protect their intellectual property and to grow their businesses worldwide. She has combined strategic knowledge and legal discipline with passion and recognized leadership, delivering successful results in complex, global business environments.

Currently, Sharon is Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for Cummins Inc., (NYSE:CMI), a fortune 200 global powertrain and power solutions leader, with over $21B in sales and nearly 50% of its business outside the U.S.  She is responsible for global legal matters, including support of strategic corporate initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory, compliance and other risk management activities. She oversees a team of internal and external legal resources across eight countries. Under her guidance the team has delivered multiple acquisitions including $1 billion acquisition in 2014 of 18 distributors, $1.2 billion Eaton-Cummins Joint Venture in 2016 and $250 million acquisition of publicly owned Canadian energy company in 2019. She also brings deep corporate governance experience through her work at Cummins and as a director on public and private boards including Walker Innovations, Inc. (OTC QB: WLKR), Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School, Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, and LaRabida Hospital, Chicago IL.

Sharon has a successful track record of leadership having served as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) where she was responsible for patent and trademark operations, managing a budget of over $2 billion and 10,000 employees.  Her work included developing a new hiring plan for the Patents Organization (hiring 2500 examiners in FY2011), rolling out a nationwide work force (opening offices in Detroit, Denver, San Francisco), devising a new Human Capital Plan for all USPTO business units, and driving creation of the “2010-2015 USPTO Strategic Plan”, which created a framework for addressing one of the USPTO’s most significant challenges—lowering patent pendency and improving patent quality. She was also responsible for articulating US domestic and foreign intellectual property policies and led over 14 foreign missions to meet with leaders in government, academia and industry to raise awareness about the impact of intellectual property on business and innovation.

Sharon also had a distinguished career in private legal practice at Foley & Lardner where, as member of Executive Management Committee, she helped develop growth strategies and lead day-to-day operations for the 1100 lawyer firm, served as Intellectual Property Department Chair managing operations and setting direction for 200 lawyers with P&L responsibility of $250 million, expanding department revenue by 10% over 3 years; and spearheading the firm’s East Asia presence by establishing its first Asian offices, in Tokyo, Japan (2007) and  Shanghai, China (2008).

Sharon’s business and personal travels have taken her to over 30 countries and she has met with government heads and policy-makers across the globe.  She is a frequent speaker on intellectual property strategies and the importance of intellectual property to business value.

Ms. Barner received her bachelor’s degrees in political science and psychology from Syracuse University and her JD degree from The University of Michigan.