Johnny Burleson

Director of Strategic Partnerships

As Director of Strategic Partnerships, Johnny provides key leadership in developing and enhancing local, state, and national relationships to both bring philanthropic and federal resources into the state, as well as develop opportunities for state and local efforts to come together in support of stronger, healthier North Carolina communities.

Johnny joined the Foundation after spending 17 years in higher education advancement and philanthropy. He believes that sharing one’s experiences and retelling inspirational stories builds trust, strong partnerships, and a sense of community which leads to a deeply personal, transformational kind of philanthropy.

He believes in matching the passions of community investors with innovative ideas to create healthier and more prosperous economies, and understands that promoting philanthropy through coalition-building and partnerships creates deep satisfaction and pride in both philanthropists and the innovators.

What I love about my work:
I love helping North Carolinians live better, healthier lives. I grew up in North Carolina and have spent time in communities from the mountains to the Outer Banks. Through my professional and personal experience I’ve observed things that have worked well to advance communities, as well as the continued challenges that so many people living  in North Carolina still face.  I love knowing that my work at the foundation will bring together people, organizations, and financial resources to address these challenges. Bringing people together is my passion and when your passion is aligned with your work, success is a likely outcome.

When not at my desk:
I spend time on my farm, Old Orchard Creek in Ashe County, NC helping to manage our 4,000 blueberry bushes, six bee hives, three dogs, four barn cats, and two miniature donkeys. Our farm, which is on National Historic Register and protected by conservation easement, exemplifies my personal passion for the mountains, water, land, trails, local food, and sustainable harvest.

Favorite thing about North Carolina:
From Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks to the mountain town of Lansing in the fabled Lost Province, the state of North Carolina has remarkable cultural and natural resources. The diversity of the land and its people is my favorite thing about this state.