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Meet Alumni Association President Rob Johnson

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Rob Johnson presents alumni awards

Rob Johnson, SPA/BA ’81, recalls clearly what led him to become a volunteer for AU. “The reason I volunteered is because [President Emeritus] Neil Kerwin asked me to.” Living in Houston, where he worked as an attorney for ExxonMobil, Rob hadn’t really considered that he could support the university as a volunteer—and he’d never been asked. Over the last nine years, though, he’s learned just how much alumni—no matter where they are—can do. 

When Rob met Dr. Kerwin, a seed was planted. Since then, his support of AU has grown and changed. Rob started out interviewing prospective students, representing AU at college fairs, and attending Admitted Student Receptions through the Alumni Admissions Volunteers program. Shortly thereafter, he applied to join the Alumni Board, and he’s been a part of that important university entity ever since. 

As a student, Rob met some of his best friends at AU. He was an athletics supporter and an intern on Capitol Hill. He worked to pay his tuition and understands the stress students with financial need endure. After graduating from SPA, he attended law school at Georgetown, so he’s pretty familiar with the DC student scene. And now that he’s retired from ExxonMobil, Rob can offer even more energy to the university as President of the Alumni Association. 

Rob says that, at ExxonMobil, his mantra was “Vision is great, but you have to execute.” And execute is exactly what he plans to do in his new role. “We have seen this board evolve in ever more promising ways, and I think that the current board is as engaged, as energized, and as committed as any I have seen. Members have a deep track record of service to the university.” And, Rob believes, the time is right at AU for increased alumni involvement. He’s excited about the trajectory the university is on—and to see how the Alumni Association can support President Sylvia Burwell’s strategic plan.

And for anyone who (like Rob admits he once did) doubts what the impact of their service could be, Rob says simply, “Give me 30 seconds to tell you why you can make a difference. I promise you’ll get more out of it than you’ll give. Volunteering will open doors you don’t even know are there.”