Click Here To Listen Nashville Business 100 Leading African Americans Karen Johnson
Metro Councilwoman Karen Y. Johnson represents the 29th District in the Metro Council. Her first council race in 2011 she won with 52% of the vote in a field of 5 candidates. Her reelection race in 2015 she won with 82% of the vote. Serving in her second term, she was elected in 2015 President Pro Tempore of the Metro Council. She has served on most Council committees and has served as Chair and Vice Chair.
Driven from an early age to serve her neighbors and her community, Councilwoman Johnson’s record of community service is unsurpassed. Prior to her election to the Council, she served her area as a member of the Metro School Board where she won with 51% of the vote in a field of 3 candidates which included an incumbent, and was an Mayoral appointee on the Metro Boards of Zoning Appeals and Metro Parks and Recreation.
Councilwoman Johnson’s path of public service reflects her passions: as a champion for neighborhoods and an advocate for a better quality of life for all Nashvillians. Her reputation is built on old-fashioned hard work – being at every event that matters, greeting any Nashvillian she happens to meet, and fighting the local battles that many in her position pass by.
Karen Johnson has never met a stranger, and her smile and her big hug are legendary.
For a glimpse at what Councilwoman Johnson is made of, consider this: When her children were school-aged, she served as President, Secretary and Treasurer of their Parent-Teacher Organizations at Lakeview Elementary School, Cameron Middle, Kennedy Middle, Antioch High School and McGavock High School. During part of this period, she was a single mother.
Councilwoman Johnson’s hard work has paid off. Among many of her accomplishments, to name a few, she was instrumental in making the new Smith Springs Regional Community Center that will serve Seniors, Children and Families a reality. She helped make Cane Ridge High School and Smith Springs Elementary School possible. On her watch, the Una Sports Park facilities were upgraded and restrooms added for the many children and families who frequent the park. She also championed successfully the first Civil Rights Art project for Nashville and the Woman Suffrage Monument.
Beyond government, Councilwoman Johnson is a leading member of the civic community in Nashville and beyond. She is an alumna of Leadership Nashville Class and was elected to the Tennessee Municipal League Board of Directors. Mayor Megan Barry appointed her to Metro’s Diversity Advisory Committee, and she was on the 2017 Council on Youth, Education, and Families Institute.
Councilwoman Johnson is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Alpha Psi, Alpha Delta Omega. She also is a past Chair of the Sister for Sister Conference – 100 Black Women-Metro Nashville. She is a member of the Tennessee Women’s Political Collaborative. Women in Numbers, Women for Tennessee’s Future and is past President of the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus and member of Les Gemmes Nashville chapter. At the national level, Councilwoman Johnson has been an effective representative of Nashville in the National League of Cities (NLC), an advocacy organization for 19,000 cities, towns and villages that represent more than 218 million Americans. She is an elected NLC National Board member and was selected as a National Fellow with the NLC’s Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, where she also has served at the regional level. She has held a long list of positions with NLC, including Chair of the Transportation Infrastructure and Services Committee, Vice Chair of the Large Cities Council, and member of the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee.
Closer to home, Councilwoman Johnson was the founder of Southeast Nashville’s single largest event, the Southeast Nashville Egg Hunt and Festival which is celebrating its 15th year.
Councilwoman Johnson has been honored by the Nashville Business Journal, as one of the city’s Women of Influence; by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as a Nashville Emerging Leader; and in 2003 by The Tennessean as one of Nashville’s Top 40 under 40. She also has been honored as the recipient of the public service award from the Tau Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Karen is married to David Johnson, who served honorably in the United States Marine Corps. She has three children, Chris, Jon and Dave, a granddaughter and enjoys traveling, golf, and tennis.
Born to a family of educators, she is the daughter of the late Dr. Leotis Peterman and the late Lucy Peterman Lane.
She was awarded her Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Tennessee State University and Master’s Degree in Business from Trevecca Nazarene University. She received the Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management Merit Scholarship.
Professionally, Karen is Director of Human Resources for Mercy Health Services and has worked previously in Human Resource Management for the State of Tennessee, HCA, and Shoney’s Inc.
She currently is a candidate for Metro Nashville Davidson County Register of Deeds in the May 1, 2018 election.