20 Under 40 Q&A: Dawn M. JohnsonStaff development specialist for Essentia Health.
Get to know Dawn M. Johnson
Occupation: Staff development specialist for Essentia Health.
What do you actually do? Contribute to my organization’s success by developing people through training, consulting and coaching. At Essentia Health, I specifically work with new employees through orientation and with leaders at all levels.
Years in your job: I have been in my current position for a little over a year, but I have been developing skills in others for more than 15 years.
Education: Bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the College of St. Scholastica. I expect to be finished with my master of arts in management and a master of business administration from St. Scholastica in 2013. I also hold a human resource generalist certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Family: My parents, Norm and Karen Johnson; brother, Scott; sister-in-law, Kim; nephew, Hunter; and niece, Addison.
Community involvement: I serve on the board of the Lake Superior Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development and hold the position of president-elect. My other professional memberships include the Northland Human Resources Association and Lake Superior Writers. I am a 2012 graduate of Leadership Duluth and serve on the 2012-13 Leadership Duluth steering committee.
What brought you to the Twin Ports?
I moved to Duluth to attend college in 1991 and, except for a short 10-month excursion to Iowa in 1996, I have lived here ever since.
What do you like to do during your free time?
School work takes up much of my free time, but when I am not studying I enjoy reading, writing, scrapbooking and spending time with my family and friends.
Describe your favorite place in the Twin Ports.
I love the Lakewalk and Canal Park, but who doesn’t? I really loved working in downtown Duluth. There is a synergy downtown that you can’t find anywhere else in Duluth.
What do you like most about the Northland?
Too often people look at the larger companies in the area and if there is not a position available in their field they make the assumption that there are no jobs in Duluth. Finding the perfect position is sometimes like a hunt for treasure — you have to be patient and maybe dig a little, but the opportunities are there to be uncovered. Each position enhanced my career aspirations. Also, Duluth nurtures a rich and diverse arts community.
How can the Northland retain younger population?
Duluth needs to connect with its youth in high school and showcase the depth of opportunity available here before students graduate and go off to college. Entrepreneurs, artists, educators and city officials could bring the city to life for these students. It’s not just the city you grew up in; it is a city you can grow into, and grow old in.
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
My parents told me and showed me from a very young age that I could do anything that I set my mind to and have supported me in every endeavor. They are my role models. My mother is patient, creative and extends her love of learning to me. My father is smart, driven, and gives generously of his time and talent to church, his community, and to friends and neighbors. I owe all my success to them.
What are you most passionate about?
Professionally, I am passionate about developing people. I have been fortunate that through my work and professional experience I have been helping people learn and grow for nearly 15 years.
Personally, I am passionate about stories. I love to hear other people’s stories; I like to tell my own. I especially enjoy hearing about the paths that people walk and how experiences change them or send them on a journey they never expected. I have a few of those stories myself.
How have social and business networking sites changed your life?
I have found LinkedIn to be most beneficial to me. LinkedIn allows me to keep up with current trends in training and development and learn from professionals all over the world. I like to join the conversations on LinkedIn groups. Being able to network daily with other professionals is like being able to go to a professional conference every day of the week.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Starting and running my business is my biggest accomplishment to date. There is nothing more satisfying and challenging than creating something from nothing. I started with one customer and built my customer base to more than 3,000. Throughout my 10 years in business, I earned awards for sales and recruitment, purchased my own home, traveled to Ireland and earned an all-expense paid Caribbean cruise, but the real value within my business was in the friendships that were formed.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?
Continue to grow in my career and publish my first novel.
What advice would you give other young people?
One word: network.