2022 NEA Women in Business: Crystal Johnson

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 447 views 

Crystal Johnson
CEO
Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce
Residence Batesville
Education Bachelor’s degree, Harding University; master’s degree, University of Central Arkansas

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

The passage of Act 456, establishing the Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship Program, has been the most fulfilling moment in my career. Our community had a dream of establishing a sustainable funding source for high school students to earn college credit or receive technical skills training while in high school. By earning concurrent credit, students are able to enter the workforce faster and with less debt. Against all odds and the many who doubted us, we gathered partners and developed a strategy to turn this dream into a reality for all students in Arkansas.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?

My next big challenge is facilitating our newly revised community strategic plan, IMPACT. With input from thousands of community members and stakeholders, our strategic plan includes areas of focus related to economic development, placemaking, healthy living/wellbeing and education. By using the plan as our guide, we have increased our population, grown our economy and improved overall quality of life. I feel very blessed that I have been trusted to carry out this work in Independence County.

What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?

I’m an arranger, especially when it comes to arranging people. By recognizing talents and skills in others, I have been successful in organizing effective teams and developing strategies around capacity. That trait serves me well in community development work which is only successful with true collaboration and teamwork.

What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?

It’s easy to let past failures prevent us from success in the future; the fear of another flopped speech, a project that wasn’t perfect, a goal that wasn’t met. I would tell young women starting their careers to give themselves grace, learn from past experiences and share failures with others so they may be able to avoid the same heartache.

What’s the last good book you read?

Not the last book I read but still my favorite, “Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow” from Gallup. I refer back to this book often in my quest to develop leadership skills and build strong teams. The book reveals the results of research in “Strengths Based Leadership” and identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others’ strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the basic needs of those who look to you for leadership. Since reading this book, I ask all of my coworkers to complete the assessment prior to hiring so we can place them in roles where they will be most successful. We also offer the assessment to all Leadership Batesville participants. The assessment results can be applied to work and life outside of the office.