Sharon Prince is the CEO and Founder of Grace Farms Foundation, a new kind of boundary-defying public space that advances good locally and globally. Prince commissioned Pritzker Prize-winning SANAA architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa to design Grace Farms, which has become widely known as a global humanitarian and cultural center located in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Grace Farms is the platform for the Foundation and its interdisciplinary humanitarian mission to pursue peace through nature, arts, justice, community, faith, and Design for Freedom, a global new movement to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain. The open, porous architecture of the River building at Grace Farms is embedded into 80 acres of natural biodiverse landscapes. The building, designed to break down barriers between people and sectors, invites all to pause and reflect, while also encouraging engagement with Grace Farms’ work, including advancing gender and racial equity, all of which leads to creating new outcomes.
Since opening, Grace Farms has garnered numerous prestigious awards for contributions to architecture, environmental sustainability, and social good, including the AIA National 2017 Architecture Honor Award and the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize.
Grace Farms is pioneering a new form of philanthropic capitalism with a non-profit owned certified B Corp. Prince co-founded Grace Farms Foods which offers coffees and teas that demonstrate what the Foundation advocates for: ethical and sustainable supply chains. 100% of the profits from Grace Farms Foods supports the Design for Freedom movement to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain.
After recognizing a void in addressing exploitation in the building materials supply chain in late 2017, Prince launched Design for Freedom in 2020 with a first-of-its-kind publication, a nearly 100-page Report that provides analysis and data on how forced labor is embedded into the very foundations of our buildings. At the inaugural Design for Freedom Summit in 2022, Grace Farms also released the Design for Freedom Toolkit, a practical resource professionals use to implement ethical sourcing strategies into their practices. She has guest lectured about Design for Freedom and Grace Farms to universities and industry associations around the world. In recognition of this impactful work, Fast Company named her to its list of the Most Creative People in Business 2022: For Cleaning up Construction and the AIA NY and Center for Architecture recognized her with the NYC Visionary Award.
At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, when countries around the world shut down, Prince converted Grace Farms into a humanitarian hub to address two emerging crises: the lack of PPE for frontline health care workers and soaring food insecurity. Under her leadership, Grace Farms became the largest supplier of PPE in the state, securing, donating, and delivering more than 2 million pieces of PPE within weeks to close the acute state-wide PPE gap. She also initiated a critical food emergency program that provided more than 150,000 wholesome meals to neighbors in need. For this humanitarian work, Prince received the CEO Forum’s Transformative CEO Award | Leading through Crisis.