Young Professional Of the Year
Dr. Donna Johnson recognized at top 40 Under Forty gala
Dr. Donna Johnson has a love for learning and a passion for sharing that love with others. Her dedication to higher education helped earn her the recognition of 2019 Young Professional of the Year from the Young Professional Initiative of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.
“I am absolutely honored and in shock,” Johnson said after the award ceremony. “It’s amazing to hear the great things that are happening in our city with our young professionals. This is a great place to learn, to grow and to stay. The goal with this effort to support young professionals in the workforce and in education is to give them what they need so that they want to plant roots and stay here at home.”
Johnson was selected from among this year’s 40 Under Forty class. Johnson and the entire class were honored Dec. 7 at a gala at the Shreveport Convention Center.
“She’s very impressive,” said Jana Freeman Forrest, chair of this year’s 40 Under Forty. “I didn’t realize how much she had achieved. The fact that she is from Shreveport and came back to serve her community is such a big deal. Her involvement in education, pushing for growth across the I-20 corridor with the universities has been a huge impact on our community.”
Johnson is the assistant vice president for academic advancement and partnership at Louisiana Tech University. She joined the La. Tech staff in 2018 and oversees the Academic Success Center in Bossier City, the Tech Barksdale Program and the Tech Shreveport Center. It’s all part of what Johnson likes to call La. Tech’s “westward expansion.”
The Academic Success Center on the Bossier Parish Community College campus opened in late 2018. The opening of the center coincided with a memorandum of understanding between La. Tech and BPCC to increase educational opportunities through the center. It joins the Tech Shreveport Center, 8028 Shreveport Drive, and the Tech Barksdale program on the base to expand educational opportunities in northwest Louisiana.
“In the past few years, Louisiana Tech has definitely looked westward down the I-20 corridor,” she said. “There’s opportunity to nestle here within the greater Shreveport-Bossier area. The population is here; the department of defense is here; many of our wonderful industry partners are here. Planting ourselves among them gives us the chance to grow and flourish and serve their needs, along with the needs of higher education. Businesses locate in areas based on resources. We’re able to provide the resources and the talent.”
Johnson has committed herself to learning throughout her life. She holds a Bachelor of Science in occupational education from Wayland Baptist University, a Master of Education from Wayland Baptist University, a Master of Arts (English) from Northwestern State University and a Doctor of Education from Louisiana Tech University.
Johnson taught in public schools in Texas and Louisiana before moving into higher education. She has managed multiple university expansion and development initiatives, bolstered educational advancement in support of the Department of Defense and assumed teaching roles with Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State, Bossier Parish Community College and Ashford University.
She also actively serves the university and the community at large through participation on various committees and workgroups. Johnson is president of Open Arms Adoptions, serves on the State Taskforce for Adult Learners, and serves on numerous committees with the Shreveport and Bossier Chambers of Commerce.
“I have a heart for people and community,” Johnson said. “Connecting with people, supporting people, meeting them where their needs are is extremely important. In my work with Open Arms and adoptions, I help those who might otherwise not have an opportunity to better their situations.”
YPI is a group created to foster leadership among professionals under the age of 40 and to enhance the development of northwest Louisiana to attract and retain more young leaders. The 40 Under Forty awards recognize entrepreneurs, executives, managers and professionals in public, private or nonprofit sectors. Winners are chosen based on such values as achievement, experience and innovation, vision, leadership and community involvement.
“This class was a who’s who of Shreveport,” Freeman Forrest said. “There is so much diversity, and what they are doing in our community — private sector, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. It’s an incredible thing for me to honor these folks who are making Shreveport a better place to be.”
Freeman Forrest will be the chair for YPI next year. She said she has enjoyed working with this year’s class and looks forward to next year.
“This been a huge honor,” she said. “I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. It has been a little crazy, but getting to do the different events and see this class get to know each other and honoring them has been a humbling experience for me. It’s such a great class to me. Honoring them is a special kind of gift for me. It has been great to see young professionals get involved in the community.”