2015 Leadership Series: Dr. Veda Johnson

Each week during Awareness Month, we will feature a story about a long-time leader and advocate for school-based health care on our blog. To kick off the series, we have a blog post about Dr. Veda Johnson of Emory University, who has worked to establish school-based health centers in Georgia for more than 20 years. 

Leadership Blog-VedaDr. Veda Johnson of Emory University first got involved in school-based health care more than 20 years ago, when she was recruited by the chair of the Department of Pediatrics to open a school-based health center (SBHC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended the first National School-Based Health Care Convention and has fond memories from the event.“I remember thinking that this was something grand,” said Johnson. “I was swept away by the community and the emotions, and what I believe to be a very noble cause. I remember the leaders on the dais, and the energy that was present throughout the entire convention, which was an example of things to come. It was new and exciting and I was impressed.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Johnson has had many successes, but she describes the opportunity to communicate the value of SBHCs locally and nationally as her greatest accomplishment. “The value of SBHCs was a surprise to me. When I started, I didn’t know much about them, but I soon realized it was an extraordinary model of care for children. Being able to explain and promote that locally and nationally has been my greatest achievement.”

The school-based health care field has changed significantly in the 20 years since the School-Based Health Alliance was founded, and Dr. Johnson has seen the organization’s impact nationally and in her home state of Georgia. “The School-Based Health Alliance has been a tremendous support system for us. First and foremost, to be able to network with other providers was valuable when we first started. To work with a group of folks who set standards, who have advocated on the national level, and have supported our effort to expand SBHCs throughout Georgia has been extremely helpful.”

So what does the future hold for school-based health care? “I think the future is bright,” said Dr. Johnson. “Our approach to care for children is unique and different, and lends itself to improved outcomes. If we continue on this trajectory, we will be recognized and receive the support we need so we can stand among other systems providing quality health care for the underserved.”

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1 Comment

  1. by Susan Nichols on February 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    If you ever get the chance to attend a conference where Veda is present, don’t miss connecting with her! I learned more from her in a grant writing session than any grant class that I have attended. I was working on the ACA SBHC HRSA grant at the time and she told me exactly what to include in my submission. I followed her instructions and was awarded the grant along with a feedback score of 98. Thank-you, Veda, for taking the time to share with me your experience and knowledge! You’re the BEST!
    Susan Nichols, MPH

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