About Supervisor Johnson, Jr.
Willie Johnson, Jr. was first elected 13th District Supervisor in 2000 and is serving his seventh term on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Johnson was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on March 22, 1951. A resident of Milwaukee since childhood, he graduated valedictorian of his class at Lincoln High School, earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with a concentration of courses in Economics from Northwestern University, has been conferred a Master's Degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities Degree from the Wisconsin University of Theology, and has completed courses for the Master's Degree of Public Administration program at the UM-Milwaukee. Prior to his election, Supervisor Johnson worked for the Milwaukee County Department of Human Services Financial Assistance and Child Welfare divisions.
Supervisor Johnson is a member of the Democratic Party, Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Diamond Life Member of NAACP, Milwaukee Urban League, 100 Black Men of Greater Milwaukee, National Forum for Black Public Administrators, National Association of Black County Officials, National Association of Social Workers and National Museum of African American History and Culture Director's Circle Plus Charter Member. Supervisor Johnson is a trained consultant/facilitator for the Nurturing Program and a trained AODA assessment counselor.
He has been a board member of Neighborhood Housing Services/NeighborWorks of Milwaukee, a task group member for the Housing Opportunity Partnership for Southeastern Wisconsin and Strategies to Overcome Predatory Practices of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, and is a member of the MMFHC Advisory Committee. Trained by the Homeownership Counseling Consortium, he is both a homeownership counselor and a homeownership educator.
To address community and economic development issues, Supervisor Johnson has been a member of the Harambee Ombudsman Project, the Riverwest Neighborhood Association, the Great Harambee Neighborhood Initiative, and was a Youth Enterprise Academy presenter for the UWM Center for Economic Education. For twelve years, Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. was a consultant/volunteer teacher for Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, and for many years, he was a Merit Badge Counselor for the Personal Management and American Business merit badges for youths registered with Three Harbors Council, Boy Scouts of America. Since 2001, Supervisor Johnson, Jr. has provided letters of support to nonprofit organizations, economic development corporations, churches, and emerging developers/contractors for tax credits and funding for affordable housing and office space projects. Also, the supervisor was a board member of The Private Industry Council/Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board and a local advisory committee member for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Milwaukee to address neighborhood revitalization concerns. Finally, Supervisor Johnson, Jr. served as a board member for the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin and Rebuilding Together of Greater Milwaukee.
He is a board member of Economics Wisconsin, Three Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), and the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Supervisor Johnson is Chairman of the Learning For Life Committee of the Three Harbors Council, President of the Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation, Vice Chairman of the Community Insurance Corporation, and is a current board member and Past President of Wisconsin Counties Association. Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. was a board member of Milwaukee Public Theatre from 2000-2019.
One year before he became a Milwaukee County employee, Willie Johnson, Jr. volunteered at the Milwaukee Minority Chamber of Commerce. In 1986, he assisted minority business development firms in completing applications to become certified for participation in the City of Milwaukee's Minority Business Enterprise Program. In 2005, the Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) presented County Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr., the author of the Park East Redevelopment Compact, and other Supervisors the MICAH “To Do What Is Just” award for ensuring community benefits such as prevailing wages, affordable housing initiatives, and the use of disadvantaged business enterprise firms through the PERC in county contracts. Further, in 2008 the Wisconsin Minority Business Opportunities Committee honored Supervisor Johnson, Jr. with a recognition for “Outstanding Service” from 2003-2007. In 2012, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation bestowed upon Supervisor Johnson, Jr. a Special Recognition for outstanding support of WWBIC.
An advocate of small business formation, Supervisor Johnson is a former member of the State of Wisconsin Minority Business Development Board and the State Department of Administration Council on Small Business, Veteran-Owned Business and Minority Business Opportunities; having been the author of the Park East Redevelopment Compact, he was a member of the Milwaukee County Committee to Redevelop the Park East and the chairman of the Milwaukee County Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Steering Committee.
Supervisor Johnson was a member of the Marquette Interchange Project Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation during his first term and a member of Marquette Interchange Project DBE Goal Setting Committee during his second term. He is also the former chair of the Labor Development Committee of WISDOT's SE Freeways Milwaukee County Urban DBE Advisory Committee. In 2002, the WISDOT Secretary awarded a certificate to Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. in recognition of dedication and service to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Marquette Interchange DBE Advisory Committee. In 2008, Supervisor Johnson received a Civil Rights Partnership Award from the Federal Highway Administration in recognition of his efforts to promote and achieve the goals and objectives of the FHWA civil rights programs through the synergy of working relationships. He was honored for his involvement on the Marquette Interchange Project’s Business Development and Labor Development Committees. In 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation presented Supervisor Johnson with the Secretary's Golden Shovel Award for promoting DBE firms and workforce diversity and inclusion. Having been appointed by Governor Jim Doyle in 2004 to the State of Wisconsin Minority Business Development Board, Governor Doyle presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. for reviewing and approving low interest loans to assist in the startup and expansion of minority owned businesses across the State of Wisconsin in November 2010. In 2015, Supervisor Johnson was named Minority Small Business Champion by the U.S. Small Business Administration - Wisconsin. Early in 2021, Supervisor Johnson was named to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation DBE Stakeholder Advisory Committee to serve on the Committee’s Business Sub Committee and Labor Sub Committee as well as the DBE Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
Within county government, the Milwaukee County Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program presented its 2001 Merit Award to Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr., a DBE Steering Committee member and the other steering committee members. In 2005, Supervisor Johnson, Jr. and other Milwaukee County Supervisors were recognized for their leadership and support for the Milwaukee County Office of Community Business Development Partners’ mission and goals. In 2011 and 2012, different executive directors of the Office of Community Business Development Partners honored Supervisor Johnson, Jr. with the only “Milwaukee County Small Business Champion Awards” for those years. In 2011, the agency noted “Leadership is priceless; we thank you for your service”.
Having been a member of the Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals, County Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. recently received the Marquis Who’s Who Distinguished Worldwide Humanitarian Award. Further in 2021, Supervisor Johnson was also recognized as a Featured Member in Marquis Millennium Magazine and a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professionals of the Year Inductee for his advocacy work for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms.
The Marquis Who’s Who Distinguished Worldwide Humanitarian Award is awarded to exceptional leaders who strive to make a positive impact on their communities and the world. The individuals who have been honored with this prestigious award are described as philanthropists, or those who advocate for human welfare or social reform.
Other recognitions, honors, and awards include a 2001 recognition from the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee for 12 years of dedicated service to the Vel R. Phillips YWCA Center. Having been presented the George Meany Award by the Milwaukee County Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1997 to recognize union members who have given significant contributions to youth by volunteering in BSA programs, in 2001 the Milwaukee County Council provided the Whitney Young, Jr. Service Award to Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for youth from rural or low income urban backgrounds. Having attended Badger Boys State sponsored by the Wisconsin American Legion in high school, the American Legion acknowledged with a certificate the supervisor's participation for various Milwaukee County Board Student Government Days.
The Wisconsin Extension Community Development Association awarded Supervisor Johnson, Jr. “The Wisconsin Idea Award” in 2003. In 2004, UW Extension furnished an award in grateful appreciation for outstanding dedication and tireless service to Cooperative Extension programs for helping to defeat annual attempts to remove funding for Milwaukee County UW Extension from the Milwaukee County adopted budget. In 2004, Fighting Back Inc. and Smoke Free Wisconsin recognized Supervisor Johnson, Jr. and the other members of the Milwaukee County Board's Black Caucus with an appreciation award for their outstanding commitment and service to communities of color. The Milwaukee County Council of the Boy Scouts of America awarded Supervisor Johnson with a 2005 Individual Diversity Achievers Award.
For many years, Career Youth Development, Inc. provided CYD Image Awards for excellence in community service, love of youth, and practicing "Love In Action" to County Supervisor Johnson, Jr. In 2007, The Milwaukee Community Journal, Inc. honored County Supervisor Johnson, Jr. with “The Best of The Best Award”, celebrating the community’s Black men at the 31st Annual Gala. The Wisconsin Fair Housing Network’s Individual Elected Official Award was bestowed upon Willie Johnson, Jr. in 2008. That same year, The Parenting Network recognized Supervisor Johnson, Jr., a member of their Board of Directors from 2001-2008, with deep appreciation for outstanding leadership. With the message “Community Partners Make All Things Possible”, Community High School staff and students thanked Supervisor Johnson, Jr. with a recognition for service to the school in 2008. The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church accorded County Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. a recognition in appreciation for outstanding public service in 2009. Also in 2009, The Fighting Back Golden Team Appreciation Award was given to the Supervisor with deep appreciation as a Fighting Back board member.
At the 2010 Freedom Fund Dinner, the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP presented the Outstanding Politician Award to Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. and other elected officials for positive actions toward making the community a better place. The Milwaukee River Preservation Association conferred on Supervisor Johnson a plaque in appreciation for his dedication to protecting community beauty and recreational opportunities through his support of preserving the Estabrook Dam. The National Association of Social Workers-Wisconsin Chapter presented the NASW WI 2011 Public Service Award for his many contributions to the social workers of Milwaukee County and their clients for his pursuit of social and economic justice. Equality Wisconsin recognized Willie Johnson, Jr., Milwaukee County Supervisor, as an “Equal Rights Champion.” The Fair Wisconsin Education Fund named Supervisor Johnson, Jr., other Supervisors, and County Executive Chris Abele as “Community Advocates of the Year for 2012.” In 2012, the Milwaukee County Department of Family Care Service Award was accorded to Supervisor Johnson.
The Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative conferred on Supervisor Johnson, Jr. the 2014 Harambee Community “I’m In” Award to recognize his unwavering commitment to the Harambee community and its residents. In 2016, the Milwaukee County Research Park recognized County Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr. for his service on the Research Park’s Board of Directors from 2000-2016. In 2019, the Friends of Lincoln Park presented Supervisor Johnson, Jr. a certificate in appreciation for "Exceptional Service" to the Lincoln Park Community. In 2021, Supervisor Johnson received the Marquis Who’s Who Distinguished Worldwide Humanitarian Award. Supervisor Johnson was also recognized as a Featured Member in Marquis Millennium Magazine and a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professionals of the Year Inductee in 2021.
Supervisor Johnson is Chairman of the Milwaukee County Pension Study Commission and is appointed to the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council, Milwaukee Community Justice Council Evidence-Based Decision Making Policy Team, Milwaukee County Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Milwaukee Community Justice Council Executive Committee, Milwaukee County Capital Improvements Committee and Milwaukee County Pretrial Services Advisory Board. He is a member of the UW Colleges/UW Extension STEM Precollege Institute Committee, a member of the National Association of Social Workers - Wisconsin Chapter Legislative/Policy Committee, and was formerly Secretary - Treasurer of the Milwaukee County Department of Family Care (MCDFC) Managed Care Organization (MCO) Governing Board.
Supervisor Johnson is Vice Chairman of the County Board's Finance Committee (formerly Finance and Audit Committee) having been on that committee since 2004, a member of the County Board Personnel Committee, and Vice Chairman of the County Board Intergovernmental Relations Committee. He served eight of 12 years as Chairman of the Judiciary, Safety, and General Services Committee, 15 years on the Economic and Community Development Committee and eight years on the Health and Human Needs Committee; he was for four years Co-Chair of the County Board Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee. He has served on the Milwaukee County AODA Quality Assurance Task Force, Milwaukee County Parks, Recreation and Culture Dedicated Funding Task Force, and the Milwaukee County Task Force on Segregation and Race Relations. A member of the Government Finance Officers Association, Supervisor Johnson serves on the Milwaukee County Strategic Planning Operations Team, Milwaukee County Local Emergency Planning Committee and is Community Emergency Response Team trained.