Born and raised in Columbia, the son of a truck driver and an Alzheimer’s nurse, Sam Johnson knows the challenges Columbia’s families face every day. Working long hours and night shifts to provide their children with the opportunities they never had, his parents led by example instilled with a strong work ethic and an unshakable belief in what is possible. Those values were strengthened by his Grandmother, Mary Starks who blazed a trail in many areas in South Carolina including golf.

After graduating from Spring Valley High School, he went on to study at the University of South Carolina and work for SC Representative Anton Gunn before joining Steve Benjamin’s landmark 2009 campaign for Mayor of Columbia.

Following Benjamin’s historic win, Johnson joined the Mayor’s Office where he worked on and helped secure over $1 billion in economic investment for Columbia led a number of important projects initiatives for Mayor Benjamin including My Brother’s Keeper Columbia, the Mayor’s Fellows, the Famously Hot New Year Celebration, the Regional Mayors collaboration and the Bull Street redevelopment project.

Following his service in the Mayor’s Office, Johnson received his juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law and joined local firm Nexsen Pruet where, working with former Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, he has focused on public policy and job creation.

Sam is married to local attorney Ashley Johnson and the two became parents with the birth of their daughter, Kennedy, in May of 2020.

Johnson has served and continues to serve a number of important organizations including:

  • South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, Chair
  • The Nickelodeon Theatre, Executive Committee
  • Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (Experience Columbia), Board of Directors
  • SC PASOs
  • Midlands Technical College’s Human Services
  • University of South Carolina Alumni Association Board of Governors
  • Talented Tenth
  • South Carolina Philharmonic’s Advisory Board
  • Teach for America SC
  • Harvest Hope Food Bank
  • SC State Museum
  • Senior Resources
  • Columbia Opportunity Resource