Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson begins his new job at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati in July, but the community will have a chance to say goodbye next week.
His current employer will host the “Michael Johnson & Family Farewell Soiree” on Wednesday, June 20 from 6 to 9 pm at the Edgewater Hotel, which has donated a portion of the room rental fee for the event.
“The theme of the event is ‘Leaving a Legacy,’” Stephens said. “Since Michael’s come to Madison and really gotten involved in the community, not only with the Boys & Girls Club, but in the community, he has done a lot in this community. I think this is a great evening to recognize him and his family for all their hard work and dedication in this community, and just a time to just celebrate him. He loves to celebrate everyone else, and this is a time to celebrate him as we send him off. This gives us the opportunity to do that.”
Over eight years, Johnson, a Chicago native, has become known for more than his day job. He regularly became involved with issues and events affecting communities of color. He was on the scene after Tony Robinson was shot and killed by police and often appeared alongside Focused Interruption Coalition members to provide support for families of the victims of gun violence. He also led relief missions to Houston and Florida following hurricanes last year.
He has also tangled with elected officials, including Fitchburg mayor Jason Gonzalez and several Fitchburg alders over City funding for the Boys and Girls Club’s Allied Drive center, as well as Madison Mayor Paul Soglin over City of Madison funding to curb gun violence.
Admission for the farewell event is $25, which will be used to cover the cost of the event and reinvest in Boys and Girls Club programming, according to Chief Development Officer Janine Stephens.
“(Michael) has been making an impact with the kids that we serve in this community, so it only makes sense that for his going-away party, we would solicit dollars to benefit the Boys & Girls Club,” Stephens said.
Stephens said about 200 people are already registered, but there’s room for about 150 more.
“I’m a little surprised by it to be honest with you,” Johnson said. “Just the love that I am getting from so many different people. You know, I’ve had my ups and downs in this city, right? I’ve definitely had more victories than losses. And we’ve gotten a lot of work done. And I expected a few people would probably have dinner for me at their house, or maybe a little get together, but I’m blown away by the accolades, the letters I’m getting from people.”
Stephens isn’t announcing many details of the event itself, other than the MCs ― Madison365 Publisher and CEO Henry Sanders and Focused Interruption Coalition founder Anthony Cooper ― and the schedule: A social hour will begin at 6 pm, the program will run from 7 until 8, and more social and fellowship time will go until 9.
The rest of the night will be a surprise ― by design.
“Michael has no clue what’s happening or who’s being featured, really. I’ve been kind of quiet about that with him,” Stephens said. “There’s a lot of key people in this community that will be participating and recognizing him that evening.”
Tickets are available via the Facebook Event.