Meet Wendy S. Johnson, SRC's New Executive Director

Staff

Vol. 17, No. 3-4, 1995 p. 21

Wendy S. Johnson, former executive director of the Appalachian Community Fund, comes to the Southern Regional Council with a record of fifteen years leading effective and strategic nonprofit programs in the region.

Johnson served first as an appointed member and then, in 1979, as executive director of the Human Rights Commission of Bowling Green, Kentucky, (her hometown) where she made effective use of the Commission's powers to take complaints, determine probable cause, and hold administrative hearings on allegations of discrimination in employment and housing.

Seeking new arenas to expand her involvement in pushing for equity, Johnson joined Southeast Women's Employment Coalition to lead a newly created project on non-traditional employment and eventually served as SWEC executive director. A coalition of women leaders organized to assist and support challenges to systemic race and sex discrimination in the South and Appalachia, SWEC held that economic opportunity was at the heart of this struggle for justice. Through organizing, advocacy, and effective use of the administrative complaint system and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, SWEC documented and changed employment policies and practices which adversely impacted low income black and white women.

A commitment to build the resources necessary for successful community-based projects led Johnson to her post as executive director of the Appalachian Community Fund. Through the ACF, a community foundation established to bring financial and technical assistance to organizing and advocacy work, she helped build support for numerous grassroots projects in the Appalachian counties of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

As co-chair of the National Network of Grantmakers, an organization with a membership of individuals involved in a broad spectrum of grantmaking interests, from individual donors to the staff and trustees of foundations--both large and small, private and public, corporate and community Johnson has worked to promote diversity in philanthropy, as well as exchange information and strategies about social change fundraising and grantmaking between donors and activists.

From ACF, the transition to SRC "embodies all the dynamics for one to try to live in a world that develops full potential and equity," says Johnson. "I am ready to put my shoulder to this work, to join with other folks who have stake in this organization to shape a strong future role, as we continue to work for fairness, equity, and basic human rights."