United Way of Central Maryland announced Laura Johnson, as it's new as senior vice president and chief innovation and data research officer.

Baltimore, MD (February 22, 2022) – United Way of Central Maryland today announced that Laura Johnson has been appointed as senior vice president and chief innovation and data research officer.

In this new position, Johnson will be charged with designing and launching a new enterprise to address complex community challenges and accelerate impact across the organization’s core areas of housing, health, economic advancement, and education. In particular, she will oversee program research and development; marketing, innovation, and partnerships; capacity building for nonprofits and community leaders; and the development of data-driven tools to inform community-wide decision making.

“In its almost 100-year history, United Way of Central Maryland has evolved to meet the changing needs of its neighbors across the region,” said Franklyn Baker, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Central Maryland. “Plans for the new enterprise that Laura will lead include a resource hub providing data, tools, education, and shared expertise for nonprofits, corporations, and community members committed to advancing equity and opportunities for our Greater Baltimore neighbors to live their best lives.”

A Baltimore native and Howard County resident, Johnson brings more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished nonprofit strategist. She previously served as vice president for the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) – the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on summer learning as a solution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in America. As the “architect” of the NSLA’s new State Summer Learning Network, she most recently co-led a $1.65M national partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers to help state education agencies reimagine traditional summer school.

“There is power and promise in partnering with our neighbors as we rebuild, heal, and tackle the complex challenges of our time,” said Johnson. “It is an honor to serve the community I love and to join this organization as it enters its next 100 years of service – laser focused on accelerating community solutions.”

Throughout her career, Johnson has worked tirelessly in leadership positions for world-class, mission-driven organizations across a broad spectrum of sectors including PreK-12 education, maternal health, environmental stewardship, food retail, cultural arts, and social justice.

Johnson has led partnership development and media strategies for the Arts Education Partnership (an inter-agency initiative with the U.S. Department of Education and National Endowment of the Arts), helped shape a National Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education and launched ArtsEdSearch – a first-of-its-kind online clearinghouse of research focused on outcomes of arts education for students and educators.

Beginning her career in Baltimore, Johnson served as a community affairs and communications executive for two of the city’s most renowned cultural institutions – the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She also directed statewide advocacy and marketing/communications at the Georgia Chapter of The March of Dimes. 

A longtime education advocate, Johnson has served as Education Committee co-chair for the NAACP Maryland State Conference and 2nd Vice President for the NAACP Howard County Branch. Dedicated to shaping an equitable and nurturing community where all young people and families thrive, she is a member of the Board of Trustees for Generation Teach, a member of the Howard County Library’s Racial Equity Alliance, and past PTA president at Ducketts Lane Elementary School. She also served as a member of the Education Subcommittee for Transition Team for Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball.

She was recognized for her commitment to education in 2019 as the recipient of the Howard County NAACP’s Natalie Woodson Education Award. Johnson is a graduate of Hofstra University and lives in Elkridge, Maryland with her husband Henry and 15-year-old son, Isaiah.


United Way of Central Maryland helps the working poor and those in poverty access basic needs like housing, healthcare, jobs, and education. The nonprofit’s programs promote equity, create opportunity, and improve the lives of our neighbors and the neighborhoods they call home. For nearly 100 years, United Way has tackled the toughest challenges in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. Learn more at uwcm.org.

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