ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Since graduating from St. Cloud State University, Jackie Johnson has dedicated her professional career to serving people in Central Minnesota. This fall, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director and SCSU alumna is being honored for her work in the community.
Johnson, a 1987 St. Cloud State graduate, is the 2023 winner of the Alumni Service Award. She will receive her award at the #OurSCSU Gala: A Celebration of Our Community on Friday, Oct. 6, as part of the St. Cloud State Homecoming celebration.
The Alumni Service Award is presented each year to an undergraduate or graduate alumni who are exemplary in their service to society or to St. Cloud State, and Johnson’s resume fits the bill with her years of service to her community in Central Minnesota.
A Pierz native, Johnson has lived in the St. Cloud area since graduating from SCSU with a psychology degree. Since graduation, she has devoted more than 30 years to the human services field, working with vulnerable youth, families of alcoholics, pregnant teens, and youth with special needs in the area. She worked at the St. Cloud Children’s Home and New Beginnings and spent 12 years at Catholic Charities of St. Cloud before taking on the executive director role at BBBS in 2010.
In 13 years with BBBS, Jackie has helped to grow the agency both physically in staff size and location and in the number of youth the agency serves every year – which is currently more than 400. The agency has expanded its programming to reach kids in her hometown of Pierz and Holdingford, and she was part of getting both the Bigs on Campus and BIG Partners initiatives off the ground. Both initiatives serve potential first-generation college students, and focus on getting those kids comfortable with post-secondary education and providing them resources to succeed at the next level of schooling.
Thanks to her leadership, BBBS received three national awards from BBBS of America in June 2022, including the Gold Standard Award, given to agencies that have increased revenue and grown the number of mentors matched.
Johnson was named the Sauk Rapids Citizen of the Year in 2022, is part of the St. Cloud Rotary Club and is active in the Forum of Executive Women and Salem Lutheran Church.
While Johnson’s work has touched the lives of hundreds of kids in her professional career, she also takes the time to support one little girl each week. In Spring 2021, Jackie was matched with Alexis – a Little in a local elementary school. Through BBBS’ school-based program, the pair meets at Alexis’ school a few times a month, and the smiles in the photos Johnson brings back to the office tells the story of how much the match means to both Johnson and Alexis. Those smiles also tell the story of what Johnson’s work throughout her career has meant to thousands of youth and families across Central Minnesota since her time at SCSU.