Humanitarian & Social Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Team Happy Foundation
Happy Johnson drove an Emergency Response Vehicle amid the aftermath of the worst natural disaster in American history. Following his service as a first responder, he co-founded the Team Happy Foundation (THF), which has organized thousands of volunteers to rebuild homes throughout New Orleans and distributed emergency blankets to earthquake-stricken hospitals and orphanages in Haiti. Civil Rights pioneer John Lewis heralded THF as a model organization for students and youth to join.
Expanding upon its initial mission, THF mentors youth and publishes children’s books about hurricane preparedness and coastal restoration. The displacement of ‘Katrina kids’ reflected Johnson’s adolescent journey in foster care, fueling his desire to help sustain the Big Easy for future generations. Co-host of GoNOLA TV and author, he spends his free time coaching junior league basketball.
Johnson has appeared on CNN and C-SPAN and been featured in the American Red Cross 125th Anniversary Magazine, Times-Picayune, BBC World News, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. TIME Magazine highlights his leadership in the high school history textbook: Civics Today. A former White House Intern, Johnson received his B.A. from Georgetown University and Management Certificate from Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
My Leadership Journey: From Foster Care to First Responder
In this talk, Happy Johnson's passionate delivery and breathtaking story empowers the audience. Johnson's journey focuses on exceeding expectations; he details how, by transcending a childhood fraught with adversity, he was able to become an innovative leader working to make the world a better place. In essence, his message is his life. Renowned author Dave Eggers called Johnson "an electrifying and inspiring speaker." His story illustrates the immense power of human will.
An Evening With Happy Johnson: Finding Purpose Through Persistence
In this talk, Happy Johnson offers insights on how he was able to achieve goals and discover his talents, passion, and purpose despite the odds. Faith, positive attitude, teamwork, humility, humor, and relentless determination are among the characteristics highlighted during this intimate evening of storytelling.
We Can't Wait: Redefining Social Responsibility in the 21st Century
In this talk, Happy Johnson passionately challenges audiences to embrace a 'new citizen-leader model' amid global uncertainty, economic inequality, and environmental emergencies. Johnson engages participants in a discussion about the visualization of social responsibility as a means to individual and collective happiness.
The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda
Fictional children’s picture book (Ages 6 to 10) about an adopted teen named Young Happy who plays the trumpet for his high school marching band. Young Happy also drives Big Wanda – a rusty old pick-up truck fueled by vegetable oil. Driving to a snowball stand before the start of an unexpected storm, Happy and Big Wanda’s perennial preparedness enables them to help their neighbors in need with disaster supplies made from recycled material.
- Economics The Dark World of Debt Collection: Jake Halpern's NYT Mag Cover Story
- Politics Ta-Nehisi Coates, Refusing to Ignore "the Same Old Racism," Named to Politico 50
- Innovation First Look: Work Smarter with Jeremy Gutsche's New Book, Better and Faster
- Work Up Close & Personal: Susan Pinker On Face-to-Face Contact and Happiness