Grant Johnson, 16, was recently awarded a Leadership Fairfax Youth Leadership Award for co-chairing the project to build the Great Falls Freedom Memorial, which honors Great Falls residents who lost their lives in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The award was sponsored by Freddie Mac and recognizes outstanding leadership by an individual under the age of 21, whose service positively impacts the lives of young people by helping them reach their full potential so they can become contributors to strong, vibrant communities.
Established in 1997 by Leadership Fairfax, the Northern Virginia Leadership Awards recognizes individuals and groups who have made a difference in the Northern Virginia community through their vision, innovation, courage, commitment and inspiration. Leadership Fairfax is a non-profit, community leadership organization that identifies current and emerging leaders and brings them together to study community issues and to achieve positive change. Visit www.leadershipfairfax.org.
Number of years in the community.
Sixteen. I was born in Reston Hospital in 1990. We lived in McLean until I was 3, which is when my family moved to Great Falls.
Family. My parents are David and Ellen Johnson, and I have a younger sister Lauryn.
Education. I am a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Marshall High School.
Achievements. Currently serve as class officer for the Class of '08, Vice President of DECA, an international marketing society, and Vice President of the Eagle Scout Venture Crew. Honors include: Holdon Fellow at the University of Virginia, Eagle Scout with Bronze Palm, Habitat for Humanity Good Turn for America Award, Academic Letter Recipient, Marshall High Football Coaches Award. A member of the Best Buddies Program which mentors members of Marshall High that suffer physical and mental disabilities and an Interact tutor to elementary students in the Head Start program.
Ice Hockey, football, scuba diving.
Favorite local restaurant or place in the community? My favorite local restaurant is the Old Brogue in Great Falls, and my favorite special occasion restaurant in metropolitan Washington is Da Dominico.
What are your community concerns? That is such a tough question because there are so many worthy causes that need attention, so I will tell you about one I'm working on right now. When I was told that I was selected as a winner of the Northern Virginia Leadership Award, I was informed that the award came with a financial donation to the charity of my choice. I had to give this some thought because every organization I am associated with could use a donation. I wanted to use the money in a way that would have a long term benefit. Since the award money was granted based on leadership, I decided to use the money to help at-risk kids get leadership training through the BSA [Boy Scouts of America.] Not many people know this, but it is very common for local troops to scramble to find the money to send disadvantaged kids to camp in the summer. This is unfortunate because these are young people who would benefit most from the training they would receive at scout camp. It teaches them how to make responsible choices, become self-reliant and puts them on the path of becoming community leaders. The award money will be put into a trust that will fund the Leadership Fund on an on-going basis. The people I have approached about helping me have been supportive, and I will be approaching the Freddie Mac Corporation for guidance since they are the sponsor of this award.
What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community? One of the things I would like to see is more interaction between community groups. For example, I work with the Best Buddies Program and a friend of mine works with the elderly. Instead of keeping these groups separate, we should be looking for ways to create interaction between these groups. It would give senior citizens a chance to serve as mentors and it would give Best Buddies more time and attention. This theory could be applied to many community organizations.
What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about? Freedom Memorial in Great Falls, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" A Firefighter.
Where do you see yourself in five years? If everything goes according to plan I'll be a junior in college, preparing for graduate school. I hope to attend UVA or the University of Pennsylvania.
Personal goals? My short term goals are to establish a Leadership Trust with the award money granted from the Freddie Mac Corporation and to find additional donors, and to complete my International Baccalaureate Diploma. My long term goals are to go to college and to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.