Get to know Sara Jemison, Acquisitions and Development Project Management at Alco Management, Inc. and Greater Memphis Chamber 2020 Young Memphis Honoree.
What event or accomplishment has been the most impactful for your career so far?
I spent the first two years of my career providing residents of government assisted housing (public housing and section 8 voucher holders) avenues to advocate for their housing needs within the federal government. This allowed me to see the disconnect between policy makers and those impacted by federal housing policy. While my current work has shifted away from policy formation to program implementation, the understanding I gained about the impact and causes of the lack of quality affordable housing forms how and why I choose to work to develop affordable homes.
What motivates you to be active in your community or profession?
I believe in safe, stable housing as a force for economic growth, community development and personal success. Developing and managing quality affordable housing, as our team at Alco does, allows us to support and invest in underserved communities across Memphis and the Southeast, taking part in the growth of the city.
What does “being a young professional in Memphis” mean to you?
What I love about Memphis is residents’ commitment to the city and to its growth. Simply by being a young professional here and loving the city, I have something in common with those around me. This shared passion and dedication enables young, engaged Memphians to build momentum for the city we want to live in now and one day grow old in.
What do you like about living in Memphis?
I love all of the green space in Memphis, and opportunities to be outside- whether it’s hiking in Shelby Forest, kayaking the Wolf River, or just reading a book in Overton or Tom Lee Park, I love having access so nearby.
What advice do you have for new young professionals interested in starting or building their career in Memphis?
Be engaged in what you find interesting and build connections with people who share your passion, recognizing that won’t necessarily come through your 9-5 job, especially at the smart of your career. Whether it’s through a job you love, or through volunteer work you do, groups you join, or community panels you attend, you will ultimately find fulfilling work that uses your skills by pursuing that which excites you and engages your abilities.
Who do you most admire and why?
My grandmother, Peggy Bodine Jemison, raised three children in Memphis before going back to Memphis State for her bachelors degree, then her masters, and later her PhD, during which she focused on the history of Memphis neighborhoods throughout the 20th century. She has remained committed to learning and growing throughout her ten decades and sets an example in her love of Memphis and belief in its potential.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Right here! I love Memphis and my work through Alco- in 10 years, I’d hope to continue to be living in Midtown, engaging in my neighborhood and working in affordable housing. I’d also love to continue to explore how for profit companies can work for the betterment of their community. Often that discussion is focused on the roles of corporations in philanthropy, but I believe that to change the trajectory of our city and this country in favor of equity and justice, public and private companies must focus on strengthening their community and empowering employees from the ground up.
What’s your favorite thing about being a young professional in Memphis?
Being surrounded by people who are passionate about the city- both at work and with friends, I’m amazed and encouraged by others’ belief in and love for Memphis, in all the city’s grittiness.
Interested in getting plugged in? Learn more about the Chamber's Soundcheck Young Professionals Council here.