Meet Our Outreach Team – Renée J. Johnson
Small Business Majority’s Outreach Team advocates for entrepreneurs on two fronts: It supports policies that would benefit small firms, and it offers workshops and events that help small business owners grow their companies. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sitting down with members of our Outreach Team to provide an introduction and let small business owners know how our team members can assist them.
For the first post in this series, we’re spotlighting Renée J. Johnson, who holds a dual role as our new Director of Government Affairs and Outreach based in Washington, D.C.
Q: Could you tell us about your position at Small Business Majority?
A: My position has two parts. The first part is to work with Congress and surrounding jurisdictions to make sure Small Business Majority’s priorities are being highlighted on Capitol Hill.
For the outreach component, I’ll be working in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland to find small business owners whose stories we can highlight on Capitol Hill and share with their state legislatures and city councils.
Q: What were you doing before you joined Small Business Majority?
A: I started on Capitol Hill many moons ago when I worked for U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (IL). I went on to work for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (IL.), for whom I did a lot of small business work, and then worked for then-Sen. Roland Burris (IL.) where we did a lot with minority small business 8(a) loans. From there I went to work for D.C. Council Judiciary Committee and then Chairman Phil Mendelson. I was honored to work for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser at the the Department of Human Services and then made my way to Mrs. Obamas’/Civic Nation to United State of Women, where I had the privilege to create a program to train women to be entrepreneurs, leaders in organizations and CEO’s, run for political office, and become advocates in their own communities. After a few years of traveling the country with this amazing program, I joined D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, where I authored the District’s 2018 HIV Report. Now I’m here at Small Business Majority!
Q: Why have you chosen to dedicate your career to helping small businesses thrive?
A: I love to hear why people go into business. People will start out in law school because they want to make a lot of money. Then, the next thing you know, they become a baker because they used to love baking with their mom and they want to hand down this tradition to their children. These stories highlight the best of people, and being able to fight for them is a rewarding opportunity so they are able to thrive in their passion.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about working for Small Business Majority?
A: I cannot wait to introduce small business owners to members of Congress so they can tell their stories. Many members get elected and then forget how they became elected. I want to make sure we are holding legislators accountable.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to work in education and policy?
A: Yes, I was the craziest kid. One day when I was five years old my dad was flipping through the television channels, and when C-SPAN came up, I said: “Stop, I want to watch this.” And he responded: “What? It’s just a person sitting there and people walking around.”
I wanted to know more about politics, so my dad and I would go to the library and figure it out. He ended up becoming interested in it too and it became our thing. I am really grateful I had supportive parents who said, “I don’t know what this means, but we’re going to do it together.”
Q: What goals do you have for your first year at Small Business Majority?
A: One of the goals I want to accomplish is to make sure we put our best foot forward on Capitol Hill. I want everyone there to know who we are, how we support small business and what we have to offer.
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: This is an opportunity I feel very blessed to have. I am a voice not only for small businesses but also for women and women of color.
If you are a small business owner who is interested in engaging with Renée and Small Business Majority on policy issues, you can fill out our spokesperson form here.