Stephanie Johnson, Special Learning Center
It is not an exaggeration to say that Stephanie Johnson makes an impact wherever she goes. She’s a powerhouse fundraiser and a strong relationship builder. Plus, she’s a nice human being with a heart for helping kids in the Jefferson City community.
Stephanie has served as executive director for the Special Learning Center in Jefferson City for the past three years. In her role, she leads a team of 80 people who work to provide services in early childhood special education such as childcare; family-support programs; and physical, occupational, speech, and educational-based therapies, like home therapy, to over 900 children from 11 counties.
Another large part of her job is ensuring the Special Learning Center has revenue to keep their doors open through donations, grants, community relations, and volunteer services. While it’s a big job, she’s inspired every day by the kids she sees at the center.
“The most inspiring aspect of the Special Learning Center is watching children walk into the center with a smile and fearlessly tackle the obstacles in their lives,” Stephanie says. “To see children move from wheelchairs to walkers to walking independently, it inspires. No matter how hard I work, the children at SLC are working harder.”
I feel like I work for the community, and I go where the community needs me.
The Special Learning Center has signature events throughout the year to raise funds — including the Capital City Cook-Off , golf tournaments like the Tom Henke Charity Golf Classic in partnership with the Cosmopolitan Club, and the Perfect Pairings event. Donations also come from supporters who are directly impacted by the services.
Stephanie has taken what she’s learned from all of her previous roles and used it to strengthen her contribution as an executive director.
“I have been so incredibly blessed to have an entire career serving our community. My first job was at United Way where I saw leaders come together to better people’s lives. I went on to the Samaritan Center where I learned how to provide direct services to those in need. I then transitioned to March of Dimes where I learned about fundraising. And through the Boys and Girls Club, I learned how to be a leader. In all these roles, getting to impact the lives of children and families was so meaningful,” she says.
The Special Learning Center board of directors brought Stephanie on board as they worked toward their goal of expanding the Special Learning Center facility and services. It’s a role she has gladly taken on, especially since it means serving more kids and positively impacting more families in the community than she has ever been able to before.
“I feel like I work for the community, and I go where the community needs me. Children with developmental delays and disabilities need a new building and state-of the art equipment. It’s all about helping people reach their goal and potential.”
Stephanie also recognizes what a treasure it is to live, work, and be part of the generous Jeff erson City community. It is something she thinks about often.
“Jefferson City is really quite a magical place when it comes to our willingness to help our neighbors. There is something special here. We truly believe in helping people. You can always count on them to step up and help people in need. That’s unique. It’s not like that everywhere.”