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BW graduate named Cleveland Clinic’s first Chief Community Officer

The position is brand new for the world-renowned, global health system and is another step in Vickie Eaton Johnson ‘89 living out her purpose.

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Baldwin Wallace University alumna Vickie Eaton Johnson ’89, honored as “a visionary leader in Cleveland’s neighborhoods,” is digging into an exciting new role as Cleveland Clinic’s inaugural Chief Community Officer.

Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree from BW, along with a master’s degree from Cleveland State, joined Cleveland Clinic in 2014 as senior director of Government and Community Relations.

In that role, Johnson was charged with helping to design a five-year community health strategic plan and to build connections with neighborhoods surrounding the system’s main campus on the East side of Cleveland. Major initiatives included attracting a major grocery chain into the Fairfax neighborhood “food desert.” 

Broader reach

In a news release announcing Johnson’s new position, Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., Cleveland Clinic CEO and President, noted, “The work Vickie has done and will continue on a broader scale shows our commitment to the communities we serve in Northeast Ohio and our other locations across the globe.”

As a member of the Clinic’s executive team, Johnson is leading community strategy for the entire healthcare organization, which includes locations in Florida, Las Vegas, Toronto, London and Abu Dhabi.

The release says Johnson will develop “collaborative relationships with community partners, healthcare professionals, government agencies and elected officials.”

“With the support of [Cleveland Clinic’s] community partners and leaders, we can work together to bring meaningful change that will result in a healthier community for all,” Johnson said.

Empowering people

Johnson, who studied political science at BW, has spent her career supporting economic empowerment.

Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic, she served as executive director of the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, manager for the City of Cleveland’s Housing Construction Office, housing director for Hough Area Partners in Progress and legislative assistant in the Ohio State Senate. 

“It’s always been about people and helping them be in control of what success is for them and to bring everyone to the table to try to make those things happen,” Johnson said in a 2021 interview with FOX 8 TV.

Advocacy and purpose

In that appearance, she also recalled that her Collinwood High School coach and mentor advised her to go to Baldwin Wallace and added that today, “I believe I’m living my purpose.”

“The reason I have the opportunity to sit at the table is to have a voice for minorities, to have a voice for people from the community, to have a voice from my lived experiences. I’m not shy about it. I’m encouraged to speak up about it.”

Johnson, who has served on numerous nonprofit boards and been recognized with a raft of awards, is currently working to add a Ph.D. to her distinguished resume.

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