Ann Johnson, an advocate for community dialogue, has decided to retire. The executive director of ACT Rochester will step down in July.
Johnson led the growth of ACT Rochester—Rochester Area Community Foundation’s community indicators program —for 12 years. The effort was launched to inform the nine-county region and focus its attention on complex issues such as racial disparities, health and poverty.
Launched in 2009, ACT Rochester works to change the culture of community problem-solving and associated decision-making through the use of credible, independent and timely data.
“Ann Johnson is a unique, mission-driven person who has developed ACT to shine a light on critical community issues in a way that citizens can understand and be motivated to become involved in positive change,” says Tom Argust, who heads ACT Rochester’s advisory committee.
A Pittsford resident and a former IBM and Xerox executive, Johnson has been active with the Data and Evaluation Committee of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, which was established after the Community Foundation and ACT Rochester released their first in-depth reports on poverty in the region.
Seeing a need to provide community members with a deeper understanding of poverty, she also piloted a poverty simulation for participants to “walk in someone else’s shoes,” RACF says. A grant from the foundation then helped Coordinated Care Services build capacity to run these simulations locally and nationally.
Johnson also played an instrumental role in launching the Rochester Public Library’s Conversations on Race series in Monroe County.
On June 9, ACT will host its annual Report Card gathering at the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s Eisenhart Auditorium, which typically draws officials from government, business, nonprofit, faith-based and education sectors. It will mark the last time Johnson will host the event.
“Ann Johnson made sure that ACT Rochester was easy to use, with credible, timely and independent information on the state of our region,” says Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of RACF. “But Ann also focused on the broader goal of engaging local leaders and residents in learning about critical issues, then connecting with each other to create a better community. That will be her real legacy.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.