Meet Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson was born and raised in the Ward 5 Langston-Carver Terrace Community of Washington, D.C. Raised by a single mother. The Ward 5 community recognized Gary’s obvious potential, he was supported and encouraged to go after his dream of playing in the NBA but at the same time to pursue a wealth of education.
"Gary’s first-hand experience and knowledge make him a key supporter of urban youth development desperately needed for our black youth and our black community."
Gary is a product of the Washington, DC public school system, graduating from Phelps Vocational High School. Recognized for his talent in both academics and athletics, Gary earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC). In his senior year, Gary led USC basketball team in both scoring and assists and was awarded by the university "Most Valuable Player Award" and “Best Defensive Player Award.” Upon graduation, Gary continued his basketball career playing professionally in Europe. In 2000, Gary earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from USC and is a lifetime member of the USC alumni association.
With extensive experience in mentoring young black youth, it was only natural that Gary transitioned into a teaching career. He spent years teaching world and modern history and science at the middle school and high school levels. He quickly realized teaching was something he both loved and wanted to do. Gary dreamed of using athletics to create a positive and safe environment for disadvantaged black youth, particularly those coming from low-income households. Gary also served as the Dean of Students and at BASICS DC, a public charter school offering an accelerated science and liberal arts curriculum.
In 2012, he founded DC Youth Empowerment a 501(C)3 non-profit providing academic and socio-emotional development programs for middle school, high school, and young adults in the DC area. The program is designed to form partnerships with local school districts and social service (providers. DC Youth’s goal is to foster a commitment to young people that will promote pro-social friendships, strong interpersonal skills, and introducing an intense career exploration model.
The 501(C)3 was founded in direct response to the growing number of at-risk students that are either falling through the cracks at school or are already entangled with the juvenile justice system. Gary also teaches Workforce Development as an Adjunct Professor at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
Continuing his education, Gary graduated with honors from George Washington University, earning a Master of Arts degree in Education and Human Development in Post Secondary Transition in 2012. The degree enabled him to be a change agent in teaching, leadership, and support roles. He learned how to prepare youth with disabilities and at-risk youth to make successful transitions through high school to post-secondary education, employment, and independent adulthood.
As an Urban Youth Development Specialist, Gary is recognized as expert on issues impacting urban youth, focusing primarily on environmental behavioral effects on black youth. He employs his expertise to assist parents and schools modify troublesome behaviors, which often leads to disruptive conduct. Within this area, Gary is recognized for expertise and is frequently invited to address the state of inner-city school, juvenile detention, and recreational centers. He also conducts workshops and participates in conferences and expert panels.