Dana J. Johnson
Senior Director Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Greater Louisville Inc.
Family: Husband Kevin, children Kameron and Kendal, and grandson Kameron II
By Carrie Vittitoe | Photo by Marvin Young
More and more businesses are recognizing that diversity is an important aspect of economic growth. A workforce consisting of people with diverse experiences and thoughts helps companies serve more people and with greater attention to customers’ needs. With a Spalding University degree in business administration and almost 20 years of experience in community and public relations, Dana Johnson’s role at Greater Louisville Inc. allows her to use her experience and empathy to help both large and small companies be successful.
What are the challenges of your work?
The nature of the work, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), is uncomfortable. It’s challenging and can be very heavy to talk about all these different marginalized groups. Often people just want to look at DEI through a race lens, when there are veterans who suffer and we need to do more to uplift them. There are women who are not recognized for their contributions. Disabled folks are often overlooked.
In the midst of that heaviness, what do you find rewarding?
A big piece of my job that makes me happy is when a smaller, younger business in their infancy can connect with a large [company]. These [large businesses] mentor small companies. One is at a successful level and one is trying to grow.
What are some of the DEI efforts you’ve worked on that help women?
We do a lot of events and programming, and I make an intentional effort to make sure women are part of those panels and discussions. I try to make sure women are always included. There are several women-owned businesses that we spotlight through our Power to Prosper Minority Business Accelerator.
What have you learned about yourself?
I’m a strong-willed person and determined to get what I want. Another thing is I have a sense of empathy. I want the underdog to always rise up. I used to be a worrier, and I’ve learned that many times the things you worry about the most never happen.
What colors energize you and make you happy?
I love black and white. You will see me in it most times. I love the chicness of it. I feel like I have a colorful personality so I like to surround myself with citrus colors because they are reflective of who I am.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
That I make [people] feel comfortable and that they enjoy being in my company. The reason that compliment means a lot is because of a quote from the late, great Maya Angelou: People will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
What is your favorite meal of the day and favorite food that is part of it?
I like brunch, and bacon has to be somewhere in there.
What profession would you want to work in for one day?
I wish this could be more than a day, but I would love to be a television journalist. I would want to be on Good Morning, America. I would love to interview people, particularly some investigative stories, and shine a spotlight on some wonderful people making an impact who are often overlooked.
What is an item you own that is especially meaningful for you and why?
One of my late father’s old jackets. It’s not the cleanest, [but] I absolutely love it. It makes me feel close to him. It very much still has his scent on it. In the pocket, it still has ATM receipts he had stuffed in there. My dad was my everything; he passed away four years ago.
What song gets you pumped whenever you hear it?
Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce. I was fortunate enough to go to Oprah Winfrey’s farewell show at the United Center in Chicago. Beyonce performed it, [and] it was so cool.