Sheri Johnston said she is ready to make a difference in her new position as Jefferson City's neighborhood services specialist.
Hired two months ago, Johnston handles a wide range of jobs, such as managing the city's recycling, household hazardous waste and adopt-a-street-adopt-a-spot programs, working on the city's incentive homeowner programs, and assisting with the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission.
After graduating from Lincoln University with a degree in criminal justice, Johnston worked 11 years for the state of Missouri in the Department of Social Services, first in the Child Support/Enforcement Division and next in the MO HealthNet Division. In late 2013, she joined the Air Force Reserve full time, working as a training manager for about four years.
Johnston said she was "hungry for a position that I felt like I could make a difference and directly affect things" and thought the city position would be a welcomed challenge. She enjoys working with residents and seeing the difference her position makes in the city.
"With the local level, the city level, of government, you're closer to the decision-making body and you actually get to participate and maybe at some point influence decision-making that effects the city," she said. "You get to witness and be a large part of everything that's going on, all the decisions that are being made that are affecting the community."
The most difficult part of her new job, Johnston said, is overcoming her shy demeanor.
"Working for the military in training management and my positions at the state, it didn't require a whole lot of getting out from behind my desk and going out and meeting people and networking, things like that, but this job is all about that," she said. "I'm a naturally shy person so this job does get me out of my comfort zone a bit."
While working full time in the Air Force Reserve, Johnston and her husband, Don, moved to Texas. She said one of the things she's most enjoyed since moving back to Jefferson City is seeing how the town changed and the future plans for the city, such as the Missouri State Penitentiary and old St. Mary's Health Center complex redevelopments.
"Moving back to Jefferson City after being gone for four years or so, it's been very fun to see from such a close perspective all the changes that are happening in Jefferson City, all the new developments, and being able to see all the future plans there are for Jefferson City," she said. "It's exciting to be able to witness that, especially from the perspective of working for the city."