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Lesli Johnson wins Janet and George Voinovich Faculty and Staff Leadership Award

Rebecca Harhai
March 22, 2022

Lesli Johnson, professor of public service at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, was named the 2022 recipient of the Janet and George Voinovich Faculty and Staff Leadership Award.

The award recognizes Voinovich School faculty and staff who exhibit outstanding leadership and honors the legacy of Sen. George V. Voinovich. It includes $5,000 for professional development training, activity or equipment directly related to the Voinovich School’s strategic outcomes. The inaugural award was bestowed in 2019.

Johnson’s selection recognizes her dedication and work within the Voinovich School. She first joined the school in 1997 to help with completing evaluations to obtain federal and state funding. Today, she has helped the school receive more than $15.8 million in external funding, which has been used to help plan, evaluate and improve diverse programs focused on the education, health and well-being of people in Southeast Ohio.

“I love working at the Voinovich School because we are very mission-driven, and our mission is to improve the quality of life for people in Southeast Ohio and in the state,” Johnson said. “Our work is externally driven by the needs and requests of the people around us.”

In addition to her efforts to obtain external funding, Johnson works on multiple projects across the Voinovich School, including community health partnerships and student-focused efforts. Some of her recent projects include the Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey Analysis, a project that examines the experiences of Medicaid recipients in Appalachian Ohio, and the Appalachian Whole Child Partnership, a project that assists schools in implementing community partnerships to promote student wellness.

“My official title at the Voinovich School is professor of public service, but I also like to add ‘other duties as assigned,’” said Johnson. “I really see myself as a worker bee in the organization, and I truly wouldn’t be receiving this award without my teammates.”

In accepting this award, Johnson said she wants to recognize her teammates and coworkers throughout the Voinovich School who have helped with every project and initiative on which she’s worked. She said she plans to use the $5,000 award to give back to the school, hoping to find professional development opportunities from which all people in the organization can benefit.

“I think all of this work is so collaborative,” Johnson said. “I could never point at a piece of work and say, ‘I did this.’ This is not an individual accomplishment for me. This is an accomplishment for the Voinovich School and all our talented people”

Johnson’s appreciation for her coworkers is not unrequited. Many individuals at the Voinovich School praised Johnson’s work ethic and have celebrated this accomplishment with her.

“I’m so pleased to see Lesli win this award,” said Kate Leeman, director of strategic initiatives at the Voinovich School. “She and her team make a real difference, working with all kinds of organizations to understand local needs and what can be improved to better serve children and families.”

Faith Voinovich, the late senator’s granddaughter and member of the selection committee, said that in reviewing the staff and faculty nominations for the award, Johnson stood out because of her impact on the Voinovich School and the broader Southeast Ohio community through significant external funding efforts.

“Lesli’s long-standing commitment to the Voinovich School made her stick out during the judging process,” Voinovich said. “She has a long history of ‘showing up’ to make a positive impact whether others are watching or not, and we’re thrilled to highlight her contributions through this award.”