Sterling E. Freeman is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He currently resides in Durham, NC with his wife Michelle Graham-Freeman and daughter, Joia.

He served, 2010-2015, as the Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, Smithfield, NC and has been a Christian minister since 1996. His ministry is focused on training for leadership and
collaboration for the purpose of building healthy communities and pursing social and economic justice.

Sterling is the project director for the African American Denominational House at Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY, an effort to promote peace and social justice in the world. He is also an associate with OpenSource Leadership Strategies and has focused on racial equity work with the OpenSource Team. He and his colleagues work with organizations across the country to help them bring an equity lens to their missions. And, he is a co-leader of a Scriptural Reasoning project in his hometown of Durham. The aim is to catalyze interfaith collaboration to combat religious violence.

Sterling holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Global Leadership from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA. He also has a Master of Divinity from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, a BA in Economics from Davidson College, Davidson, NC, and certificates in business strategy and
economics from the London School of Economics. 

For over fifteen years Sterling has trained leaders across the state of North Carolina in the area of
human relations. He is the former Executive Director of Wildacres Leadership Initiative (WLI),
which operates a two-year leadership program called the William C. Friday Fellowship for
Human Relations. The program focuses on intentional community building among a diverse
body of emerging North Carolina leaders for effective collaboration. The Initiative has Alumni
across the state of North Carolina whose leadership crosses the public for profit, public benefit
and private sectors.

Sterling is a board member of the Lott Carey Global Missional Community and the NC Wildlife
Foundation. He is a member of the Durham Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.,
and was the local and regional 2009 Kappa Man of the Year. He was the News &
Observer’s May 24, 2009, Tar Heel of the Week. He also is a 2011-03 William C. Friday Fellow.