African American woman with glasses

Laura Johnson – Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero for May

Laura Johnson is May's Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero!

African American woman with glasses

Laura Johnson was raised in Village, Arkansas by the late Stellar Hildreth, where she attended elementary and high school before graduating in 1978. Upon graduating from high school, she continued her education at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas. While there, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Computer Information Systems in 1982. After graduating in, Laura accepted a position at Southern Arkansas University Tech as a Programmer Analyst. In 1985, she became the first African American female Director of Computer Services at Southern Arkansas University Tech and in the state of Arkansas. A few years later, she became the Director of Information Technology and Telecommunications Services.

Laura has 39+ years of technical experience in higher education. She had the pleasure of serving those 39+ years at Southern Arkansas University Tech. Laura’s departmental mission was to lead a team that provided the necessary resources as it relates to computer hardware and/or software to support the mission and educational goals of the college. Before retiring in June 2022, she served as the Chief Information Officer for the campus. With Laura’s passion for Southern Arkansas University Tech and its future in technology, she chose to stay with the college as the Jenzabar One Project Manager and Technology Consultant until the campus is operational on the new Student Information System.  Laura currently serves on the Computer Engineering Advisory Committee and is an Adjunct Instructor for Rocket Awareness Orientation.

Her past professional accomplishments include being a member of the South Central Poise User Group (SCPUG) from 1998 to 2022, a member of the Arkansas Users of Telecommunications and Information Systems (AUTIS) from 2006 to 2022, serving on the Poise Users Group (PUG) Board of Directors from 2003 to 2006, receiving the Chancellor’s Award for the Outstanding Administrator in 2003/2004 and 2017/ 2018 academic year, receiving the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges (AATYC) Outstanding Staff Award in 2004 and 2018, being a 2009 Graduate of Leadership Camden Area, being featured in the 2014 Information Technology Publication under “What Would You Do,” and being featured in the 2022 Arkansas Money & Politics for the C-Suite article on the top-level executive positions as the Chief Information Officer.

Laura is a member of Hosanna Missionary Baptist Church in Village, Arkansas, where she serves as the Church Clerk, Financial Secretary, Program Director, Youth Choir Director, and Youth Sunday School Teacher. She is very committed to serving her church and members in any capacity needed. Laura was married to the late Randy Johnson for 29 years. She has one son, Brandon (wife Sheri), who lives in Richmond, Texas. In October 2021, Laura was blessed with her first grandson, Kyree. To Laura, the most memorable Maya Angelou quote is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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