Kahn is the daughter of retailer Maurice H. "Sonny" Salloway and the former Margaret Goldberg of Sylacauga. She graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1970 and earned a bachelor of science and master of arts at the University of Alabama, serving as SGA president of the College of Education. She remained at Alabama to complete a Ph.D. in education administration. Her dissertation topic was "Centralized Comprehensive Planning in Institutions of Higher Education." She also attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in 1982.
Kahn joined UAB as an assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement and legal affairs in January 1978. During her tenure, she has served as an assistant and associate vice president for academic affairs, an associate vice president for financial development, an associate provost for facilities and administration and interim vice president for financial affairs and administration. She also serves as an Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and is on the faculty as an assistant professor of education leadership.
Kahn headed the 1998-2003 "Maintaining the Momentum" campaign which raised $392.4 million for UAB. She was promoted to her current position in October 2014 and is overseeing the $1 billion "Campaign for UAB" fund raising campaign.
Fifteen years ago, she led UAB’s first comprehensive university-wide campaign, which ended as the largest, most successful fundraising campaign ever undertaken by an Alabama university at that time: $388.7 million between 1998 and 2003. The Maintaining the Momentum initiative that followed raised $392.4 million, exceeding its five-year goal by 6.2 percent. She was made an honorary life member of the UAB National Alumni Society in 2004.
Kahn has served on countless UAB committees and numerous civic boards, including the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, the Alabama Symphonic Association, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Better Business Bureau, the Junior League, Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham International Festival, Cahaba Girl Scout Council, Boy Scouts, The Women’s Fund, the Altamont School, Operation New Birmingham, Southern Research Institute, WBHM-FM, and the YWCA's Momentum leadership program. She has been a member of the advisory board for UAB Magazine and the president's council of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. She has served on the corporate boards of BBVA Compass, the Alys Stephens Center, The Club and the Summit Club. She served as a judge for the Jefferson County Junior Miss pageant from 1981 to 1983.
She and her husband Donald have two sons, Alex and Mitchell.
- Torch, Stacey Scoggins (October 2013) "She runs this town" Birmingham magazine
- "Kahn promoted to senior vice president" (October 8, 2014) UAB Reporter
- Shirley Salloway Kahn curriculum vitae at uab.edu