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The First Lady

Mrs. Irene Oakley Johnson

Irene Oakley Johnson is a procurement professional and responsible for a $131 million contract in the Mission Operations Support Office at the NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas.  She was instrumental in the development of the Procurement Directorate’s Career and Leadership Development Program called BA Leadership and Innovation Career Enrichment (BALaNCE).  Prior to joining NASA Irene had a successful career in human resources development and talent management and acquisition. She served as the Corporate Recruiting Leader in the Futurestep Division of Korn Ferry International and Regional Corporate Recruiter for Mercer HR Global, one of the world’s largest employee benefits consulting firms. She also has served as a talent management consultant to fortune 500 companies, government and not for profit organizations.  

Irene, born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, attended Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Suffolk University in Boston. She holds a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership from Ashford University. 

Irene has maintained a life-long commitment to the arts and humanities. She currently chairs the Long-Range Planning Committee and serves as an Executive Board member of Inprint Inc., a literary arts organization in Houston, Texas. She was instrumental in establishing the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) as its first project director, board member and founding family. She is a former member of the board and chair of the Fund Development Committee for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. She also has worked for the Mayor’s Office on the Arts in Boston, the National Association of State Arts Agencies in Washington, D.C., and the African American Museums Association in Washington, D.C.  In addition, she and her husband, Dr. Ronald Johnson, served on the National Committee in support of the “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” exhibition that was curated by The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2012) and traveled to the Cincinnati Art Museum (2012) and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2012-2013).

She is active in civic and social organizations. She is President of the Port City Chapter of The Links, Inc. She is also a life member of the Houston Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., and the treasurer of the Chapter’s Associates. In addition, Irene has volunteered her time at the Northeast YMCA and the Awty International School, both in Houston, Texas.

Irene and her husband, Clark Atlanta University President Ronald A. Johnson, Ph.D., have one son, Brandon, a lawyer, and a beautiful daughter-in-law, Vanessa, with whom they spend time together on the East Coast at family gatherings.  Both Irene and her husband are avid travelers and enjoy exploring new and different cultural and culinary experiences throughout the world.

Inauguration Information

Please join the Clark Atlanta University Community in "Lifting Every Voice" during our Presidential Inauguration, October 7-9, 2016. We are counting down to an exciting new day.