Meet The United Way's New Leader

May 7, 2018

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati is selecting a Wisconsin non-profit leader to be its next president and CEO.

Michael Johnson is head of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County in Madison. While there, he has reportedly expanded the operating budget 318 percent and quadrupled the number of kids and families served.

In a statement, the United Way says Johnson comes onboard as the organization is focusing on poverty. Johnson says he grew up in public housing in Chicago and understands the challenges that trap families in poverty.

"My entire life has prepared me for this moment," he says. "Stepping up to lead United Way during this transformational time is an extreme honor. As a child who was born into a life of barriers, I understand the need to boldly challenge the status quo. It's the only way we provide the kind of help that truly changes lives."

The United Way says more than 200 people applied. Johnson was selected because of his passion, fundraising expertise and nonprofit management experience.

"Michael’s business sense is extremely impressive," says Julie Poston, who led the search. "He's secured millions of dollars in new revenue during his career and most recently organized the largest annual fundraising campaign in the history of his organization. This talent is exactly what we need to build on United Way's strength and fuel our ability to do the most good in our community."

He replaces Rob Reifsnyder who is retiring after 18 years in the top job. Reifsnyder is throwing his support behind his successor. "I believe there's no better leader to step into this role right now than Michael Johnson. He has incredible passion and expertise to continue to build on our 103-year legacy of doing good in this community. Having spent time with Michael, I believe our community will love him."

Johnson starts July 9. The Greater Cincinnati chapter of United Way is currently ranked the sixth largest in the country.

From Johnson's United Way Biography

Johnson served as chairman of United Way of Dane County Government and Nonprofit Division for its 2015 Workplace Campaign and has served on more than a dozen boards and committees including The Overture Center for the Arts, Bike Federation of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin School of Human Ecology, CF Charities and the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia. He received NBC 15's Making a Difference Award in 2017, Madison 365's Most Influential African-American Award in 2015, In Business Magazine's Most Influential Person Award in 2014, and was honored by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for his work in Philadelphia in 2012.

Johnson earned a BA in Business Education from Chicago State University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, certifications in Fundraising Management from the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, a certification in Human Resource Management from Cornell University and holds an Advanced Leadership Certification from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Johnson's wife, Toya Johnson, has been leading as a United Way Director in Dane County, Wisconsin. They have three children ages 13, 7 and 4.