Debra Johnson - Executive Director

Debra Johnson

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Debra Johnson ( joined Aware Awake Alive as executive director in January 2013 as the culmination of a career built serving communities through social service nonprofits and national causes dedicated to health and wellbeing. She strongly believes in the urgent need for the organization’s nationally focused mission to equip youth and their communities with the tools and confidence to prevent lives lost from alcohol poisoning.

Johnson came to the organization from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, where she served as the Texas State Executive Director where she was responsible for overseeing the six Texas regions with 14 offices. Previously, she was a national staff member of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an internal consultant for some of the largest Komen Affiliates—working on capacity building and strategic planning; fundraising and development; staff management; board governance; public relations and marketing; and public policy and advocacy.

Her first nonprofit position was with the Red Cross in New Jersey, where she acted as Blood Services Director. She was one of the earliest people trained by the Red Cross to present AIDS education. Next, while Education Director at The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, she oversaw programs that assisted more than 18,000 individuals a year and created several parenting courses.

Then as Executive Director of Prevent Blindness Texas in Fort Worth, she revitalized that organization and created a preschool vision screening program that was supported by the Junior Leagues of Fort Worth and Arlington. As the Development Director of Hope Cottage Pregnancy and Adoption Center in Dallas, she established programs that assisted very young mothers and was instrumental in helping some of these women pursue their educations.

In 2004, Johnson became the founding Executive Director of the Houston Affiliate of Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, building outreach programs that reached medical underserved women in the Houston area who had no access to breast cancer screenings and services.

Notably, Johnson began her career in ministry and was the first woman in history ordained by the Hungarian Reformed Church, serving a church in Roebling, New Jersey for five years. She is a graduate of Connecticut College and Yale Divinity School. She has one son, Marcus, who lives in Austin with his wife.

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