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Executive Director, Southwest Georgia Project, New Communities, Inc

Shirley Sherrod

Shirley Sherrod was born in Baker County, Georgia, and she has spent her life working for human rights and equity. During the 1960s, Sherrod and her husband helped to form the first land trusts in the United States, including New Communities Inc., a collective farm co-founded by Sherrod in 1969. Located in Lee County, Georgia, the 6,000-acre project was the largest tract of black-owned land in the United States. Shirley has a master’s degree in community development from Antioch University through the Rural Development Leadership Network. The individualized master’s program allowed community activists in rural areas to continue their work for their local communities while earning their degrees. In 2009, she was appointed by the Obama administration as the Georgia State Director of Rural Development, the first black person to hold the position.

Currently, Sherrod serves as the executive director for the Southwest Georgia Project and New Communities, Inc. She was appointed to serve on the USDA’s equity commission and works to effectively advance racial justice and equity at USDA. She also serves on the boards of Rural Advancement Foundation International, Rural Development Leadership Network, and the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative.

Areas of Expertise



New Communities, Inc./ Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc.

Address: Albany, Georgia
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