By Michael Daniels Journal Staff Writer
It’s been and whirlwind two months for AOoA President/CEO: Ms. Billie Johnson, after it was known that soon she’d be stepping down as CEO and President after forty-nine and one half years, the accolades started coming in.
The awards began on March 27, 2023, when the Lucas County Commissioners chose her to receive a plaque on the Lucas County Wall of Friends in the Commissioners Chambers at One Government Center. So far, she is only the nineteenth person to receive this prestigious honor in over 20 years of the awards’ existence.
Next, on June 13, 2023, in the City Council Chambers, the Toledo City Council started their meeting by presenting Ms. Johnson with a resolution from the Toledo City Council. A fitting salute for a job well done.
This was followed by the grand finale of retirement celebrations on June 22, 2023, at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio at the newly remodeled Glass City Center.
After the business part of the meeting was concluded, the next two hours were devoted entirely to Ms. Johnson’s retirement. People came from out of the woodwork and from near and far to honor Mrs. Johnson and her work. Politicians, including the current and past mayors, all the Lucas County Commissioners, business-people, associates, seniors, friends and family.
Some of those, who could not be there in person, sent their accolades by video like Ohio’s governor Mike DeWine and Marcy Kaptur. This over-the-top celebration was well deserved for a lady who has served the community so well!
It all started forty-nine and a half years ago when Billie Johnson was working for the Community Planning Council, a United Way Agency. She was asked to write a grant for the establishment and destination of an area agency on aging.
While writing the grant Mrs. Johnson saw an opportunity to include in the proposal a job for herself, so she did just that. The grant was successful and thus The Area Office on Aging, as we know today, was born, and she was in charge.
Someone handed her the ball and she ran with it. She already had a preconceived notion of what this agency should be, when she wrote the grant. Now it was time to make her vision a reality and that’s what she did, bit by bit, over the years. Starting out with only four employees she continually grew the agency to what it is today. Now the agency has a staff of over 185 employees and is found on its own campus. Plus, there are some 2000 Senior volunteers, and it serves ten counties in Northwest Ohio.
Justin Moor the former VP of Planning who is now the acting interim CEO said,
“It’s amazing to see the city stand up and recognize the contributions Ms. Johnson has made to this community and older adults. She is often someone who does the right thing quietly and she has steered this agency in the right direction. She has made the right decisions and what we can do to honor her is to continue to take it to the next level like she did during the last 49 and one half years.”
Another AOoA VP, Ireatha Hollie added, “I feel Ms. Johnson’s retirement is wonderful and terrible. Terrible because she will be missed and wonderful because she’s leaving us such a fantastic legacy. She invested so much in her outstanding staff that they will be able to carry on the work that she started. I’ve known her for 50 years and I’ve seen the growth of this agency over time and feel that she has done an excellent job!” Ms. Johnson feels the work she has done in her life is her calling and her love for seniors was inspired by her grandmother. She is also immensely proud of the senior housing projects that she was able to build.”
Her last official day on the job is June 30, 2023.