Lavonne and Glen Johnson

Our History

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is a research and teaching center within the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA).  The Institute is named in honor of GSPIA alumna LaVonne Johnson (MPA ‘80) and her late husband Glen Johnson.  The Johnson family has supported leadership-related programming within GSPIA since at least 1995, and the Institute was formally created in 2006. 

The Johnson Institute helps GSPIA fulfill its mission to prepare students to make significant contributions through leadership in public service.  The Institute also plays an integral role in the University of Pittsburgh’s broader community engagement efforts.  Through longstanding programs like the Nonprofit Clinic, the Johnson Institute has a legacy of concurrently preparing students for leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors and strengthening the organizational capacity of local and regional institutions.

Since 2017, the Johnson Institute has also been home to the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum, named in honor of Frances Hesselbein, a pioneering leader and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The Hesselbein Forum offers additional opportunities for student and community leadership development, including an extracurricular leadership development program and publication of the award-winning journal, Leader to Leader.