Aaron Polkey
President & CEO


Aaron Polkey is the incoming President and CEO of Palmetto Project, a South Carolina statewide nonprofit that identifies innovative strategies to address the social and economic challenges facing the state, and puts them into action. He has been recognized as an inspirational leader, gifted communicator, and tireless advocate for historically marginalized individuals and communities.

A native of Charleston and proud Gullah Geechee, Polkey plans to build upon the Palmetto Project’s 40-year legacy of catalyzing successful public-private partnerships to improve the quality of life of South Carolinians while positioning it at the vanguard of emerging solutions for rapidly evolving challenges.

Prior to joining Palmetto Project, Polkey served as Senior Program Attorney and Associate Director for Learning & Leadership at Futures Without Violence, a national social justice nonprofit that works to end gender-based and hate-fueled violence and harassment.

Polkey has also fought for affordable and safe housing as an Attorney Advisor with the D.C. Office of the Tenant Advocate, advocated for equal voting rights at the Advancement Project, and served as an Associate at Derfner, Altman & Wilborn (now Derfner Altman), a prominent Charleston-based firm known for its trailblazing civil rights practice.

Polkey is a former Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commissioner. An attorney by trade, he earned his B.A. degree from Georgetown University, where he was awarded the Georgetown College Medal, and his J.D. from the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law, where he was named Moot Court Best Oral Advocate. He is licensed to practice law in South Carolina, the District of Columbia, and Maryland.