Cheniqua Johnson2022 Rising Alumni Award Recipient

Cheniqua Johnson

Cheniqua Johnson is the Relationship Manager at St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation. As relationship manager and part of the Community Impact team, Cheniqua proudly supports the work of nonprofit organizations throughout the metro and in Greater Minnesota. Cheniqua is responsible for reviewing grantmaking in health and civic engagement.

Current Job

Relationship Manager at St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation

CEHD Degree

Bachelor of Science, Family Social Science

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

CEHD, TRIO Student Support Services, and Black Student Union made my college experience. CEHD gave me the extended family I didn’t know I needed - advisers, professors, colleagues, and friends that I still talk to today. From being awarded the Global Discovery Scholarship to study abroad with Nate Whittaker in Capetown, South Africa, to being a Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) Keith E. Sherin Global Scholar and living a full semester in Washington DC, CEHD played a key role in my life. The opportunities I have had to expand my network and discover more about my identity was invaluable & still, to this day, has meant the world to me.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

The ability to be flexible, reliable, and to lead with purpose and intentionality are three skills that have continued to be a huge part of my success & career trajectory. The times we are in now have shifted “normal” and how we adapt or adjust to this new “normal” will be vital for professionals in the many years to come. Even with the times changing, folks still want to know they can rely on us to be where we say we are going to be, when we say we are going to be there, and doing what we said we were going to do. That reliability forms our professional “word of mouth” resume, which if you ask me, is just about as, or if not more, important than our resume on paper.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

When I have 30 minutes of free time, I journal or take a moment to slow down. So often, I have a lot of different things going on at once and picking up my journal and getting it all out on paper - seeing it all in one space keeps me organized and motivated. If not journaling and not in the Minnesota tundra, I also don’t typically turn down an opportunity to get out in the sun, go for a walk, or try a new restaurant.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

I would recommend The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It is crucial that we educate ourselves on the systems that work well in this country and the systems that are terribly broken, inequitable, and historically rooted in racism and begin to undue that harm with intentionality. Mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, and our entire criminal justice system has disproportionately impacted Black bodies, families, lives, and communities for centuries. This book is a way simply to raise your own personal awareness and understanding and really doesn’t sugarcoat reality.

What gets you excited about work?

Admittedly, I have been a bit of a workaholic since grade school. I know that a lot of my energy and excitement stems from the service, impact, and community that I get to build daily from the work I do. Whether it’s politics, philanthropy, education, or just volunteering, the work I get to do excites me because I know I am making a difference in my life, my family’s life, and the lives of the organizations, nonprofits, or people that I work with and alongside of. The work I am doing allows me to make history, shift generational narratives, and pave the way for other Black women to do the same.