Governor's Foundation Names Johnson as Outreach Director

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | 7:00pm

NASHVILLE – The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation® has named Karen Y. Johnson –an elected member of the Metro-Nashville Public School Board– as its outreach director, where she will lead field efforts to strengthen and sustain Imagination Library programs in 38 west and middle Tennessee counties.

Created by Dolly Parton in 1996, the Imagination Library mails a new, age-appropriate, hardcover book to registered children, every month from birth until age five – at no cost to the family and regardless of income. Established in 2004 by Gov. Phil Bredesen, the GBBF serves Imagination Library grassroots organizers by providing fund-raising, public relations, and other support.
“Karen brings a wealth of leadership qualities, people skills, and enthusiasm to the table,” said GBBF President Lady A. Bird. “Her ability to encourage and assist these 38 county Imagination Library programs with their registration and fund-raising efforts will be essential to the continued success of this statewide effort, positively impacting school and learning preparedness for thousands of Tennessee preschoolers.”
In her travels to west and middle Tennessee, Johnson will meet frequently with local Imagination Library leadership and committee members to address program management challenges. She will also seek to strengthen relationships with city and county mayors, other key stakeholders and partners, and decision-makers at area birthing hospitals in order to encourage maximum registration of newborns.
“By serving on the Metro-Nashville Public School Board, I’ve gained a clear understanding of the significant challenges some of our K-12 students face as a result of poor reading abilities,” said Johnson.   “I’m here to put that knowledge to work, helping our state’s youngest citizens become proficient readers, so that they start kindergarten with the literacy skills they need to prepare them for success in school, and a lifetime of reading and learning.”
Johnson actively promoted the Governor’s League of Extraordinary Teens in MNPS’ Board District 6, resulting in Davidson County’s inaugural League inductee, Cassidy Starks of AntiochHigh School. The League is a statewide initiative that engages Tennesseans ages 13–19 in the financial and logistical support of Dolly's Imagination Library.
Before joining the GBBF, Johnson held previous positions as a human resources consultant and manager with the State of Tennessee, HCA, and Shoney’s Inc. She also serves on the boards of Metro-Nashville Parks & Recreation, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, and Adventure Science Center. In 2003, she was listed in The Tennessean’s “Top 40 under 40,” as well as the Nashville Business Journal’s 2007 “Women of Influence.”
The daughter of Dan Lane and the late Dr. Leotis and Lucy (Lane) Peterman, Johnson is a member of both Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women–Metro-Nashville chapter. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from TennesseeStateUniversity and an M.A. in Business and Organizational Management from TreveccaNazareneUniversity.
Any child under age five living in Tennessee can be registered for the Imagination Library. The cost of purchasing and delivering books –just $28 per child, per year– is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in every Tennessee county, and State funds administered by the GBBF.
Fifty-two percent of the state’s total eligible population –over 195,000 preschoolers– is currently registered in the Imagination Library. With nearly 84,000 five-year-olds having already “graduated,” Tennessee’s statewide program has served more than 279,000 children and delivered nearly 5.3 million books since 2004.
For more information on supporting your county’s Imagination Library program, the League of Extraordinary Teens, or how to register an eligible child, visit, or call toll-free, 1-877-99-BOOKS.

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