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OuttaDeeBox Podcast: From public housing to public service, the Michael Johnson story, part 1


When Michael Johnson sat down with us, the atmosphere was charged with the kind of inspiration that could only come from the 2022 In-Business Executive of the Year. In today’s conversation, Michael bares his soul, sharing the tapestry of his life’s work and the efforts at Boys and Girls Clubs that garnered him such prestigious recognition. Our dialogue traverses the emotional landscape of his Pay it Forward campaign, echoing Michael’s own backstory and embodying his commitment to fostering community support. A special surprise awaits him too—a token of our gratitude, envisaged by a local artist, which perfectly captures the essence of his heartfelt initiative.

It’s not every day that you meet someone who turns down a career in Washington D.C. to make a difference in their hometown. Michael’s narrative is rich with such decisive moments and the learnings gleaned from life in Chicago’s public housing. Wisdom, as my mother used to say, can indeed be found in the most unexpected places. We honor the diversity of experiences that shape us, and on this day, we recall the Mayor of St. Louis’s tribute to Michael’s profound influence, a poignant reminder of the impact one can have on their community.

Lastly, we navigate the stormy seas Michael weathered as CEO during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history. His near-resignation amid a global pandemic, the personal battles with health and family, and the societal tremors following the George Floyd protests reveal a story of resilience. Yet, through innovative partnerships, Michael’s actions spoke volumes—raising funds, supporting local businesses, and even ensuring daily meals for hundreds of children. Join us as we unfold the layers of this extraordinary journey, culminating in the celebration of Vel Phillips with a statue at Capitol Square—another historic achievement born from unwavering advocacy and unity.