Episode 43 - LEAD on READ: Dr. Lakeisha Johnson on The Village and Community Impact

Episode Summary

Lakeisha Johnson, PhD, returns to the READ Podcast for the second episode of LEAD on READ. Dr. Johnson, Director at The Village at FCRR, associate professor at Florida State University (FSU), and creator of Maya’s Book Nook, shares her leadership story from her childhood through her professional career.  

Dr. Johnson tells more about her partnership with Dr. Nicole Patton Terry in creating The Village to support and empower communities and schools. She cites stories and examples of how she has cultivated trust, shared ownership, and impact amongst stakeholders and partners. READers will gain actionable insights on 

  • showing up as an authentic leader, 
  • empowering teams,
  • engaging in moments of reset and restoration, and 
  • building collective impact for the communities we serve.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.”

1. Lakeisha Johnson’s Leadership Story
Listen to 7:11 – 14:18 to learn more. 

Dr. Johnson reflects upon her journey to leadership, from a young child through her professional career. She shares stories of growing up in rural South Carolina, recalling instances when she needed to code switch in her school and community. She further discusses how her personal and early professional experiences influenced her work with African American children speaking African American English and students in vulnerable populations.

“When I went through my master's and PhD program here at Florida State, I really started to see a lot of the inequities that were present within our educational system, specifically with children of color.” 

Dr. Johnson’s leadership story intersects her personal and professional experiences, relationships, and professional work at various universities, leading to her current role as Director of The Village. 

2. What it means to be an authentic leader
Listen to 16:57 – 18:58 to learn more. 

In reflecting on what it means to be leader, Dr. Johnson shares that it is important to fully show up. 

“It’s so important for me as a leader to be visible.” 

Showing up means being responsive, seeing the need in the community, and empowering and lifting up others.  

“We have to show up for each other. We have to show up for our mission. We have to show up for our values.” 

3. The Village: From vision to sustainable actualization
Listen to 19:08 – 25:26 to learn more.  

The story of The Village originated from the work Dr. Nicole Patton Terry and Dr. Johnson had established at Georgia State University. When they envisioned successful university-community partnerships at Florida State University, both researchers believed that “it takes a village” to create collective impact. 

“We have a responsibility to the communities that we live in. These are the communities that our kids are being raised in.” 

The work of The Village prioritizes collective impact and is driven by three C’s: connect, champion, and collaborate. 

“I am most interested in the projects that are going to help this kid, this school year, this teacher, this family right now.” 

4. Social entrepreneurship in education
Listen to 25:58 – 34:07 to learn more. 

Social entrepreneurship requires navigating the tension of disrupting the status quo to fulfill a current need while envisioning what is required for future sustainability. 

To be successful in understanding and addressing their community needs through The Village, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Patton Terry went on a “listening tour” at school, community, and family partners.  

5. Cultivating trust with partners
Listen to 43:29 – 49:46 to learn more. 

“It’s important that what we do and how we show up reflects [the entire community].” 

Building relationships requires prioritizing trust. When Dr. Johnson connects with families and communities, there is an understanding of their shared experience and her positionality as a member of the community.  

“I think the other part is being honest enough to ask the question in a way without making parents feel as if they aren't the experts on their children.” 

Building trust also requires 

  • asking the right questions, 
  • maintaining transparency and humility about supporting community partners, 
  • valuing shared expertise of stakeholders, 
  • committing to showing up authentically. 

“I think it's honesty, it's transparency, it's showing up in a way that's respectful and culturally sensitive that does not make parents and families feel as if they've wronged their children by what they don't know or do.” 


Learn more about Dr. Johnson     The Village     Maya’s Book Nook

Past LEAD on READ episodes:

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.

Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests and does not constitute an endorsement by The Windward Institute or The Windward School.