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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Sherry Suttles


Sherry Suttles profile headshot
I am most proud of serving as the first African American female city manager in the nation, Oberlin, Ohio in 1979, where I brought U.S. HUD-funded home repairs to the underserved, primarily black community, and hired the first black police chief (third in the state) who served 20 years after me. My actual career path began as twice an assistant and twice city manager (Lawrence Township, New Jersey) while ending in twice assistant county management positions. I started on the staff of the International City-County Management Association (ICMA) fresh after obtaining a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (University of Michigan), working as a New York City Urban Fellow, and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Barnard College, all-women, at Columbia University. Twenty years retired, my public service instinct led me to form grant-funded historical and cultural non-profits, film documentaries with my son Kamau Suttles (including “44 Daze about Trayvon Martin and the City of Sanford (Norton Bonaparte, Jr. City Manager, NAPA Fellow). I have authored books and provided consultant services to churches, neighborhood groups, etc. I have visited 17 countries in Africa (and other foreign travel). I have taught in schools from K-12 to university level. As a NAPA Fellow, my full life continues.

History of Employment

City Manager
City Council
City of Oberlin, Ohio
May 1979
September 1981
General Manager
Management, Chief Executive Officer
Thornton and Phoebe Smith, LLC Limited Liability Corporation (court awarded claim to family land 125 acres in Plantersville (Selma), Alabama, for 58 heirs; Heir Property Seminars
April 9, 2015
September 18, 2017
Producer, Documentary
Management/Entrepreneur (LLC); Distributors:formerly Landmark Media; currently, Facts on File, Incorporated dba Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Incorporated, New York, New York; Co-Producer Kamau Suttles
"44 Daze:Managing a City Crisis on a Worldwide Scale": Trayvon Martin and the City of Sanford, Florida ( Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr. City Manager)
February 26, 2012 (incident); Copyright 2013; LM 2014-2016; FSH September 2020
Deputy County Manager
County Manager
Guilford County, Greensboro, North Carolina
August 1994
November 1996
Executive Director
Lawrenceville Neighborhood Center, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
May 1991
June 1992
Assistant Director/Solid Waste Project Manager
Management/Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant
ICMA International CIty/County Management Association, Washington, District of Columbia
February 1972
June 1974
Urban Fellow (University of Michigan MPP credit)
New York City Housing Authority
New York City Mayor's Office
September 1969
June 1970
Work Study, Assistant to Director (Barnard College)
Local (formerly Community) Development Corporation; Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York
September 1966
June 1967
Government Relations Director
United Way Services, Cleveland, Ohio
February 1982
January 1985
Municipal Manager
Town Council
Lawrence Township, New Jersey
May 1989
February 1991
Assistant County Manager
County Manager
Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, North Carolina
February 1985
February 1989
Founding President
Atlantic Beach Historical Society (ABHS), Incorporated IRS 501c3 tax-exempt, charitable organization ("Linkin Up H.E.L.P" (Help Education (Gullah Geechee culture) Land Preservation) seminars, oral history, Gullah Geechee Festival, etc.)
March 2000
December 2008
President and Consultant
Management, Self-Employed
SSM; Sherry Suttles Marsh; Charlotte, North Carolina
June 1992
August 1994
Assistant City Manager
City Manager
City of Menlo Park, California
July 1974
August 1977
Youth Exchange/Non-Profit
Operations Crossroads Africa
May 1968
August 1968
Producer, Documentary
Management/Self-Employed; Co-Producer Kamau Suttles
"VALA: The Power of Black Students at Columbia University, 1968-2008" (YouTube:Black Columbia, Part 1,2,3); San Diego Black Film Festival
September 2007
April 2008; January 2009
President and Consultant
Management Self-Employed
SMA, Inc.; Suttles Management Associates; Charlotte, North Carolina
November 1996
April 2000
Executive Assistant to the City Manager
City Manager
City of Long Beach, California; Total Performance Management Measurement) Program (TPM)
September 1977
April 1979
Trainer/Conference Panelist
National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA); U.S. Office of Personnel Management, State of Tennessee; League of Iowa Municipalities; National League of Cities; League of California Cities; Ohio Municipal League
1989, 2013 (44 Daze); 1979; 1978; 1976; 1973;1972 & 1979; 1974-1978; 1979-1980
Class President, 1969
Barnard College, Columbia University
Town Councilmember
Elected Town Council
Town of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina
K-12 Substitute Teacher
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Horry County (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
International Task Force Participant
Third ICMA (International City/County Management Association) European Task Force (three week tour); ICMA's International Task Force (two-year term)
"World of Work": Iceland, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg; Task Force:Guadalajara, Mexico (March '99), Jamaica, March '00, Sweden '01
1978; 1999
Board Member, Elected
Management, Professional Organizations
ICMA International City/County Management Association; ASPA American Society for Public Administration; Conference of Minority Public Administratiors (ASPA) - Founding Chapter President, Washington, District of Columbia; Original supporter of National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA); Minority Executive Placement Program (ICMA)
1978; 1981; 1972
1980;1984; 1973
Political affiliations
National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N'COBRA) : H.R. 40 House of Representatives, United States Congress Bill (40 years ago first introduced by late Congressman John Conyers))
Republic of New Africa (RNA) former elected Vice President
1965 reparations advocate; RNA VP 2014-2017
Management Consultant, Grant Writer, Author/Editor/Historian, Filmmaker (retired from local government)
Management, Self-Employed, Entrepreneur, Volunteer
Academia - lecturer, professor, instructor
Management topics/Non-Profits
Golden Gate University; California State University at Long Beach; University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Rutgers University, Center for the American Woman and Politis, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Rider College, Lawrenceville, New Jersey; Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina; Northern Illinois University; Cleveland State Univeristy, Ohio: Kent State University, Ohio; Oberlin College, Ohio; Kansas University, Kansas; West Virginia University; University of Arizona; Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas; Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas; Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York (VALA film, 50th Class Reunion Archives Speaker)
1974-76; 1978; 1995; 1991; 1990; 1985; 1984; 1984; 1984; 1983; 1979-81' 1980; 1979 and 1980; 1977; 1977; 1974; 1978, 2008, 2019
Founding Secretariat
Olatunji International School for Life Learning, Incorporated (OISLL) - Youth/Adult Travels in United States and Africa; seminars, dance and drum classes and performances, sustainable communities
Producer Documentary
Management/Self-Employed; Co-Producer Kamau Suttles
"Coloring America's Cities: Emergence (History and Legacy) of African American City Managers - and the Kerner Commission Report 1968; Fiscal Sponsor: National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) - CACPOC (Coloring America's Cities Project Oversight Committee)
September 2018
Founding President
Gullah Geechee Group (GGG), Incorporated; IRS 501c3 tax-exempt, charitable organization; South Carolina, Florida (Mende Film, Cultural and Arts Festivals (three Florida State Funded); Selma, Alabama (Jubilee, Edmund Pettus Voting Rights Bridge Crossing)
January 2008
Primary Policy Areas

Agriculture, Budget and Finance, Civil Rights and Liberties, Economy, Education, Ethics, Foreign Policy, Gender Policy, Government Operations/Innovation, Housing, Infrastructure, International Aid and Development, Labor/Workforce Training and RecruitmentLabor, Nonprofit/Philanthropy, Poverty, Small Business, Urban Affairs, Veterans Affairs

Primary Sector of Expertise


Primary Functions

Academic Faculty, Budgeting and Finance, Communications and Marketing, Change Management, Data Analytics, Economic Forecasting, Grants Management, Human Capital, Information Technology, Intergovernmental, Organizational Structure/Design/Development, Performance Measurement, Procurement and Acquisition, Risk Management, Strategic Planning, Working Capital Funds

Management Matters Podcast

Grand Challenge: Public Service Spotlight

Public Service Spotlight: Sherry Suttles

Season: 1 Episode:91 | January 31, 2022

Show Notes:

On this episode, we welcome Sherry Suttles, the first African American female city manager in the nation (Oberlin, Ohio in 1979) and Academy Fellow, to discuss her distinguished career in public administration and her efforts to preserve Black History.