Created in 2015 for the school’s 175th Anniversary, this award is presented to an alumnus or alumna of the school under the age of 40 who has demonstrated significant professional achievement, contributions to his/her profession and/or community and continued promise of success in the future.
It is my great honor to present The Alumni Trailblazer Award to Johnaé Strong Class of 2008.
Johnaé’s Williston Northampton career started when she arrived at Williston as a sophomore boarder. The skills honed in activities while a student: organizing – as manager of the football team; presence and persuasion – as an actor in theater; and grit and determination as an athlete on the cross-country and track teams have clearly served her well in her post-Williston Northampton life.
Johnaé holds a Masters in Teaching and a Bachelors of Science in International Studies from the University of Chicago. She is an organizer, educator, healer, and writer, with years of experience in education, labor, social movement and community healing. Currently the coordinator for Grassroots Education Movement, which is the preeminent education justice coalition in the city of Chicago comprised of over 14 community based and labor organizations committed to defend and transform public education for racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice. Johnaé serves as board member of BYP100, of which she is a founding member and former co-chair for the Chicago chapter. BYP100 is a member-based political organization for 18-35 year old black people dedicated to the social, political, and economic justice for all black people, As a flagship organization within the Movement for Black Lives, BYP100 is currently active across seven major cities nationally.
Johnaé has written on topics of education and social justice with transparence on the problems and proposed solutions rooted in community wisdom and political agency. Her most recent article outlining the half billion dollar cost of police brutality settlements in Chicago and its costs to both survivors and taxpayers was published in the Nation. She is currently at work on a review of Andrew Diamond’s book, Chicago on the Make, with her partner Jason Lee, an organizer, researcher, political director, for Jacobin Magazine.
I am honored to present this inspiring young alumna with our Trailblazer Award recognizing her work’s alignment with Williston Northampton’s guiding principles of living with purpose, passion, and integrity.