Recent News

May 07, 2018

Our Next President and CEO

Following a six-month nationwide search, United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Board of Directors has chosen Michael Johnson, a seasoned nonprofit executive, as its next president & CEO. Prior to accepting this role, Michael has most recently served as president & CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin.

Michael is a proven difference maker, a longtime advocate for children and families and a successful leader with a solid track record of delivering impressive results in communities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Madison.

Michael will succeed Rob Reifsnyder who, over 18 years as president and CEO, grew Greater Cincinnati to its current ranking as the six-largest United Way in the country.


The search was led by Julia Poston, Cincinnati office managing partner at Ernst & Young LLP and United Way of Greater Cincinnati board chair, with BeecherHill, an Ohio-based executive search firm, and a committee comprised of community and board leaders. Johnson was selected from a pool of more than 200 candidates.

“Michael is a dynamic and inspiring leader,” Poston said. “His passion and personal understanding of this work, combined with his commitment to community engagement, fundraising expertise and nonprofit management experience will position him for great success as our new CEO.”

Michael has led the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County since 2010, quadrupling the number of children and families served  – making it one of the fastest-growing Boys & Girls Clubs organizations in the country. Johnson developed and instituted strong financial controls and led the largest private-public partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District to achieve eight consecutive years of graduation rates greater than 90 percent for low-income, first-generation college students.  


He is joining United Way as the organization takes bold, new steps to address poverty. More than 100,000 families in United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s 10-county, three-state service area are living in poverty. That includes 1-in-3 children. This year, United Way changed the way it invests in partner organizations to focus more on children and families in poverty, as well as launched a first-of-its-kind collaboration with partners across the region to create stronger, faster change for these families.

“I accepted this opportunity because I grew up in public housing in Chicago, overcame not being able to read and write at college proficiency, and I understand firsthand the challenges that trap families in poverty and the impact it can have on a family, city and region,” Johnson said. “I am looking forward to calling Cincinnati home and working with United Way partners, volunteers and the private and public sectors to help unite our community to change lives and provide a clearer pathway to help move children and families out of poverty.”

Michael served as chairman of United Way of Dane County Government and Nonprofit Division for its 2015 Workplace Campaign and has served on more than a dozen boards and committees including The Overture Center for the Arts, Bike Federation of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin School of Human Ecology, CF Charities and the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia. He received NBC 15’s Making a Difference Award in 2017, Madison 365’s Most Influential African-American Award in 2015, In Business Magazine’s Most Influential Person Award in 2014, and was honored by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for his work in Philadelphia in 2012.


“Michael is a great choice to take the helm at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, one of the most successful and impactful United Ways in the country. His passion, leadership skills and proven community track record will help him build on the legacy of Rob Reifsnyder,”  said Brian Gallagher, President and CEO, United Way Worldwide.

Michael earned a BA in Business Education from Chicago State University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, certifications in Fundraising Management from the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, a certification in Human Resource Management from Cornell University and holds an Advanced Leadership Certification from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Michael’s wife, Toya Johnson, has been leading as a United Way Director in Dane County, Wisconsin. They have three children ages 13, 7 and 4.

Michael will assume the role of CEO on July 9. Follow along with us as we continue to share more about Michael in the coming weeks and months to help welcome Michael to the community! Share your enthusiasm and welcome messages using #UnitedWithMichael on social media.