Celebrating Wake County's Black Leaders

Portrait of Pat Sturdivant


Pat E. Sturdivant is the Executive Director of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board (CAWD). CAWD serves businesses and citizens of Wake and Johnston counties by planning and administering innovative workforce solutions designed to provide employers with skilled workers and offer citizens training and employment opportunities that promote job satisfaction and economic mobility. Sturdivant has worked in public administration for 14+ years, providing leadership in workforce development programs in Wake, Johnston and Durham counties.

Under her leadership, CAWDB was awarded the 2019 Laurie Moran Partnership Award by the National Association of Workforce Boards. In addition, Sturdivant is the 2019 recipient of the Peter E. Kaiser Leadership Award from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. Sturdivant has also served as president of the North Carolina Association of Workforce Boards Executive Directors Council since 2015, which consist of workforce board directors from across the state of NC.

Prior to workforce development, Sturdivant spent 20 years working in the private sector in various leadership roles: Director of Process Development with Fidelity Investments; Knowledge Services Program Manager with Innovatia Inc.; and Project Development Manager, Customer Account Manager, and Sr. Training Manager with Nortel Networks. As teaching is one of her passions, Pat also occasionally worked part-time in the Community College system teaching adult basic education.


What do you see as your greatest accomplishment as an African American leader?
One of my greatest accomplishment as leader has been to lead CAWD over the last 11 years and take our organization from being a “program” to being viewed as a leader in workforce development locally, statewide and nationally.

What is your “secret sauce,”  or the leadership principles that have most contributed to your success?
Vision – You must think beyond the current circumstance and have a view of where you want to be.

Accountability – You must own what you do and always think about how something can be better.

Results – you must focus on achieving your goal/purpose rather than concentrating on how tasks are done.

How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader, and what are the keys to developing the next generation of leaders in government?
I think being a good leader means that you surround yourself with other leaders that support your mission and help to fill the gaps to achieve success. When I say leader, I am not talking about job titles, because my view is a leader is determined by approach to work (vision, accountability, results), and ability and motivation to step up and step back when needed. I continue to grow as a leader because I listen to others' ideas, learn from my own and others' mistakes, and continue to learn in every situation. For the next generation of leaders in government, there needs to be awareness, mentorship and opportunity.

With the benefit of hindsight, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
I wish I had learned earlier in my career to set a career goal early and ensure that every step taken beyond that point supports accomplishing that goal. 

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
I have not read a good book this year.