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Featured Alumni Profile (April 2016)      

Alumnus of the Month of April

Our alumnus of the month of April is Lane Man Charles D. Johnson, a member of the Class of 1967. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from Lane College, he attended the University of Southern California. Before his retirement in 2011, he served as the Director of the Illinois Department on Aging. In this role, he reported directly to the Governor of Illinois. The Department for the Illinois Department on Aging helps older adults live independently in their own homes and communities. In this role Mr. Johnson worked with a $190 million dollar budget in the first year, increasing it to $950 million during his tenure. One of his greatest accomplishments was increasing the reimbursement rate of home care workers from low income backgrounds from $6.00 per hour to $16.00 per hour. This group consisted of almost 5,000 women. In his fundraising responsibilities with DOA, he raised $115,000 in one day at the annual Celebrity Chef's Brunch, an event that was always well attended. Mr. Johnson served the DOA for many years, in fact, there is an award entitled the Charles D. Johnson Leader of Excellence Award because he was the first African American and longest serving agency director.

Mr. Johnson is an active member of New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, IL. He loves to tithe and raise funds for his church. He stated, "I have been married to the same woman (Joyce), also a member of the class of 1967, for 49 years. When I saw this beautiful lady from Milwaukee, WI, she captured my heart and soul." Fellow alumnus Marcus Bullock added these words, "Mr. Johnson is a member of the Investor's Circle of Giving at Lane College; however, no matter the fundraiser the Chicago Chapter has, he always gives much, much more. During Giving Tuesday in December, 2015, Mr. Johnson was the first to give to the college."

When asked about his fondest memories from his days as a Lane College student, he replied, "Ms. Cawthorn would not let anyone come in her class without a shirt and tie on and this is something that I still practice today." He quoted her as saying "You are what people see."

Mr. Johnson also gives praise to Mr. George Thacker, former College Registrar, for agreeing to serve as his mentor while at Lane and even after. "Even at Thanksgiving, Mr. Thacker would invite several students over, fed us and supplied us with boxes filled with enjoyable food for the rest of the week," Johnson added.

Mr. Johnson's family is closely connected to Lane College and to President Hampton. His connection to the President happened while he was attending a family reunion. President Hampton was the Pastor of Bullock Temple CME Church where Johnson's sister attended. Mrs. Johnson fell ill during the reunion. "President Hampton made it his business to pray for my wife during her illness," Johnson stated.

Today, Mr. Johnson enjoys teaching AARP classes and new member classes at his church. He hopes to come back to Lane and conduct a financial seminar for graduating seniors. Mr. Johnson is also actively involved in supporting the Elder Justice Center in Cook County. In his leisure time, he loves to travel and collect leather tooling. Mr. Johnson is the proud father of two adult sons. He plans to work on his sons' annual giving to Lane College in the near future. He enjoys spending time with his 3 grandchildren and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Let's salute Lane Man Charles Johnson! In my conversation with him, he repeated over and over that all of his success in life came because of Lane College. You may send him your well wishes at doug1945@sbcglobal.net

A special thank you to Mr. Marcus Bullock, President of the Chicago Lane College Alumni Association, for sharing in this story.

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