Harry E. Johnson, Sr.

As President and CEO of the MLK, Jr. Memorial Project Foundation, Harry Johnson, Sr. wanted to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by creating a memorial on the National Mall. Determined and poised, Johnson took the reins, and throughout controversy and set-backs steered this project from design to completion. At WINGS, we teach our kids delayed gratification, empathy and focus — Harry Johnson, Sr., thank you for being a living example of the skills we teach. You have WINGS!

Mr. Johnson has been spearheading the MLK, Jr. Memorial Project since 2002. Never losing focus, he was able to garner support from all living U.S. Presidents, Congress, members of the corporate and nonprofit communities, and celebrities. He remained a steady leader throughout the process and fortunately last month's earthquake and arrival of Hurricane Irene only delayed the monuments dedication.

Not unlike the subject of this great monument, Johnson is clearly an inspirational and driven man. He credits these traits in great part to the tight-knit St. Louis community he grew up in, as well as his mother who taught him early on that he could be whoever he wanted to be, and do whatever he want to do, as long as he believed in himself. He obviously took that valuable lesson and ran with it, as his role with the memorial foundation is in no way his first in leadership.

Mr. Johnson's experience in being a leader has actually taught him a great deal about serving. When asked about what lessons could be taken from Martin Luther King, Jr. in terms of inspirational leadership, Johnson said, "He taught us as kids that anybody could be a leader because anyone can serve. It starts with service. For me, it didn't hurt that in my Catholic grade school the nuns made us learn the "I Have a Dream" speech in speech class. It didn't hurt at all. But the fact is, Dr. King's whole persona was about serving through leadership. And that anybody could be great because anyone could serve. But more than that you have a duty to serve. And if you have a duty to serve then you also have a duty to lead. And when you couple that with everything else you learn in life, you can learn to lead by example."

Under Harry E. Johnson, Sr.'s service and leadership, the 30-foot-tall granite statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was opened to the public this past Labor Day Weekend and a dedication ceremony is in the works for this fall. Talk about reaching the sky! Mr. Johnson- you obviously know that working together is a must! For your determination and exemplary leadership, you definitely have WINGS!

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

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