After achieving success in the law with a career spanning more than twenty years, in 2014, Sharna wanted to more directly serve her community. She ran for the U.S. House seat in Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District. Although she didn’t prevail, she was honored to receive nearly 80,000 votes! Sharna learned a lot from her first ever campaign.
Just as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge “soaked” the nation, Sharna’s dear father was unexpectedly diagnosed with ALS, a truly terrible disease. Sharna’s dad declined quickly. Sharna and her family helped care for him at home, on hospice. Sharna and her dad always shared a deep interest in politics and worked closely together on her campaign, even after he was paralyzed. Sadly, he died just 12 days before the election in 2014.
Sharna joined the 3M Orchestra where she met Russ. They married in 1996 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, where they are members and Russ plays with the brass group. Russ also sings with the Minnesota Chorale. Russ works at 3M on global implementation of digital marketing and e-commerce strategies.
Sharna has made time to help our community. She serves on the Board of several non-profit organizations, including the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS). She is respected by other lawyers and serves on the Boards of the Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation. She has also raised funds for Gillette Children’s in St. Paul.
Sharna jumped into her law career with both feet when she joined the small law office of Bob Rancourt (now a District Court Judge) and provided public defense to people in Chisago, Isanti and Kanabec Counties. She also learned to help all sorts of clients, individuals and small businesses in the community.
In 1995, Sharna entered the big league of complex litigation with matters involving real estate and tax appeals, patents and trademarks. She helped protect the rights of entrepreneurs, inventors and a wide variety of businesses, large and small.
This work led her to be named one of Minnesota’s Best Lawyers as she served clients at some of the state’s most respected law firms: Larkin Hoffman, Fulbright & Jaworski (helping launch the international firm’s Minnesota office), Briggs & Morgan, and Leonard Street & Deinard.
Wherever Sharna took her skills, clients came looking for top-quality guidance.
Sharna came home to study at the University of Minnesota Law School. While earning her law degree, Sharna helped start the law school’s Journal of Global Trade (now known as the Minnesota Journal of International Law).
Sharna gained courtroom experience as a student by providing public defense to clients who could not afford to pay a lawyer. She later worked in the office of Judge Doris Huspeni on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
She earned her law degree, graduating with honors, while living at home to save money.
Sharna played violin in the University Symphony Orchestra. She was also a counselor for incoming freshman.
During college, Sharna worked at an adult care facility on the east side of St. Paul (which has since been torn down).
A graduate of St. Paul’s Harding High School, Sharna competed in track, swimming and volleyball for the Knights, and played flute with the concert and marching bands. She also studied violin and played with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. Sharna graduated as a National Merit Scholar.
She was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church, and served as President of the Youth Group. She helped planned trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.
Sharna worked for college money while she was in high school. Her first job was at the Tom Thumb donut stand at the Minnesota State Fair, where grease spattered her arms, the iron baskets nipped her fingers and the powdered sugar combined with the grease to rub her hands like sandpaper. The 15-year-old Sharna said “there has to be a better way to peddle pastry.” So she found one. For the rest of her high school days, Sharna worked at the McGlynn’s Bakery counter in the Dayton’s store downtown St. Paul.
Her classes in Spanish (which she continued at the University of Minnesota) came in handy when Sharna traveled with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies to perform in Costa Rica.
Sharna also testified before the Minnesota State Legislature in support of the program that saves families money and helps students move ahead by allowing them to study and earn college credits while they are still in high school. When that program became law, Sharna got a jump start on college by earning credits at Hamline University.
She was born in 1967, the oldest child of Allen and Patricia Wahlgren. Allen was an engineer at 3M who worked at a facility near Payne Avenue (now closed) and at the headquarters in Maplewood, and Patricia was a nurse who taught at St. Catherine’s and later worked in hospital administration for HealthEast.
Sharna grew up with a close-knit family, including her younger sister and brother. They knew Sharna was going to be a go-getter when she learned to play violin and waterski at age four.