Honoring leadership — Missouri business community commends Capt. Ron Johnson
In mid-August, as trouble continued to brew in Ferguson, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to head up security operations. Already, five days of protest and violence were tearing apart north St. Louis, a community Johnson calls home.
The days of chaos following the fatal Aug. 9 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, had seemed void of leadership. Capt. Ron Johnson was tapped to fill that void. He worked tirelessly over the months that followed to replace tear gas, smoke bombs and street blockades with compassion, understanding and leadership.
“Being a leader is one thing, but leading in a situation as explosive and divisive as the time Johnson has spent on the streets of Ferguson is a challenge few of us will ever face,” said Missouri Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan.
In recognition of Johnson’s ongoing work in Ferguson, in addition to the 27 years he has served previously in the Missouri Highway Patrol, he was awarded the Leadership Missouri Lifetime Achievement Award on Nov. 20, 2014 by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The award was created to recognize an outstanding graduate who has exemplified the mission of the program.
“It’s truly an honor to receive this award,” Johnson said during the presentation. “I accept this award on behalf of the many brave men and women of law enforcement, the peaceful protesters who have come out for a change in our nation, and also the soul of a young man that is going to change our nation and make our nation better.”
But despite the weeks of conflict Johnson and his staff had endured, and knowing what was on the horizon — the grand jury decision setting off new waves of demonstrations and violence came just days after this ceremony — Johnson’s acceptance speech was full of hope.
“I can tell you that great days are ahead for Missouri, and those days are going to be better because of the chambers in our state and the work that they do,” Johnson says. “I had an opportunity to go through Leadership Missouri, and it has truly benefitted me the last few months in Ferguson because I got a chance to see the diversity throughout our state, and the promise of our state through business and the people of my (Leadership Missouri) class.”
Johnson is a 27-year veteran of the highway patrol and currently oversees Troop C, which covers 11 counties. Johnson earned a degree in criminal justice from Florissant Valley Community College and joined the highway patrol in 1987. He is a graduate of the 2001 Leadership Missouri program.
“When people ask me what guides me and where I get some of my leadership philosophies from, I go back to 2001 and I know that I got a lot of it doing those weeks in Leadership Missouri,” Johnson says. “So I ask the Missouri Chamber to continue to sponsor this program because it does make great leaders.”
Johnson has been married to his wife Lori for 26 years and they are the parents of Amanda, 23, and Bradley 21. In his free time Capt. Johnson enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and is an avid watcher of many sports. Johnson currently serves as the commissioner of the Missouri Post Commission, as a board member of the Marygrove Children’s Home of St. Louis and the advisory board for North County Technical High School.