David Paparelli: Cultivating Next-Generation Farmers
Sterling Johnson currently serves as Director for the Partnership for Southern Equity’s (PSE) Just OpportunityPortfolio, where he oversees administration of PSE’s economic justice programs, including regranting, small business support, and workforce development initiatives. Prior to joining the PSE, he spent nearly 4 years providing consulting and project management services to over 40 state and local governments, including former mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms’ (through her Commission on Workforce and Economic Development.)
In this second of a two part interview, Nathan Stuck sits down with Sterling to discuss the value of social utility and social contract, what he wishes everyone understood about the Partnership for Southern Equity, how his lived experiences fuel his personal purpose, and challenges he encountered entering the field of public policy and community economic development.
About Sterling Johnson
Sterling currently serves as Director for the Partnership for Southern Equity’s (PSE) Just Opportunity Portfolio, where he oversees administration of PSE’s economic justice programs, including regranting, small business support and workforce development initiatives. Sterling also provides subject matter expertise as a facilitator and consultant for other PSE clients.
Prior to joining PSE, he spent nearly 4 years with Atlanta based law firm Griffin & Strong, P.C. as Director of Public Policy, providing consulting and project management services to over 40 state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and private businesses nationwide. His specialty areas include community economic development, government contracting and supplier diversity, workforce development, and inclusive economic ecosystems. Sterling also project managed more than 15 procurement disparity studies, managed supplier diversity programs on major public-private development projects, including Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, and served as project manager for Living Cities' City Accelerator 4 and 6, which explored procurement inclusion as a tool for economic inclusion. He also has provided policy guidance to several mayoral administrations, including former mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms’ (through her Commission on Workforce and Economic Development), Birmingham (AL) Mayor Randall Woodfin, and Mayor David Briley of Nashville (TN), among others. He also consulted with the Shelby County government on passage of its 2022 Minority and Women Business program ordinance.
Sterling obtained his master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Planning and Economic Development from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Furman University, where he was a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium scholar, football letterman, and participated in Track and Field. In 2022, Sterling was also inducted into the Outstanding Atlanta class of 2022 and recognized as an Emerging Leader through the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Program. He remains active in the Atlanta community as a graduate of the United Way VIP program, a board member with the South DeKalb Tribe, Board member and co-chair of the Diversity Committee for the Museum School, and as a member of the Clark Atlanta School of Public Administration advisory board.
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