Celebrating Waymakers Executive Director Ronnetta Johnson!
This year marks Ronnetta’s 25th anniversary with Waymakers—a milestone to be sure! Now in her sixth year as executive director, Ronnetta took some time to talk about the moments and memories that stand out along her journey.
Q: What were your expectations and goals when you joined Waymakers?
A: I wanted to make a difference, but I had to figure out how. I tried to take every opportunity that came up, and sometimes that involved diving into things that were new. After starting out in as a Program Director for sexual assault victims’ services and outreach, I took a side path as HR Director, and then became director of Victim Assistance Programs. I think the challenges made me learn quicker and grow faster. Along the way I cultivated a passion to help others grow and develop and that’s what I enjoy most: Seeing others succeed.
Q: When you reflect on 25 years of service, what makes you most proud?
A: The work – our staff is amazing. We intensely and heavily vet each person before bringing them onto the team. The impact these individuals make adds up to hundreds of people stabilized each year. I love to see the people I have mentored achieve outstanding growth and success. That to me is part of making a difference.
I am so proud of the way we are consistently evolving to meet the needs of our clients. We have established quality service models for sheltering and counseling at-risk youth, setting youthful offenders on positive paths and providing high quality services for crime victims. Because of the quality of our people and services, Waymakers has received positive attention from Federal and State agencies, foreign delegations, and most importantly the communities we serve.
Q: What is your favorite memory of Waymakers?
A: Laughter. We do tough work but we also laugh a lot. It’s critical to the well-being of those we work with. We communicate openly and check in with employees—find out what they need to stay well. We have support systems built in to help employees deal with the toughest days and hardest cases, and there are many.
Q: Has your time at Waymakers changed you in any way?
A: Of course it has! I have a deepened sense of gratitude. We see some tough situations, and it helps me to have a strong sense of appreciation. I’ve learned from each experience and from the individuals I’ve worked with. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some incredible people and that changes you and helps you grow.
Q: What do you wish people knew about Waymakers?
A: That the work we do helps to facilitate life changing transformations for people every day—And I don’t say that lightly at all. We’re able to step into situations of crisis and help people stabilize and see a positive view of the future. Not instantly, but we get there. And the work we’re doing is really individualized, we help people make the choices that are right for their life and that has such a huge ripple effect in our community for generations to come. We step into situations that can be devastating and we help them see that there are different paths. We are making a difference.
Q: Do you have hobbies or activities that help you decompress?
A: I love being outdoors and we take road trips whenever possible. I read a lot: historical mysteries, fantasy, or escapism. I began singing in choirs when I was five and haven’t stopped (pre-COVID) and I might also play pool, foosball and darts.
We congratulate Ronnetta Johnson, our fearless (literally) leader, on her 25th anniversary with Waymakers. We are so grateful to learn from her, be inspired by her and work with her to transform lives each day. Thank you, Ronnetta!