Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2006


Kim-Toy Reynolds Huh ´77

Nancy Farwell ´73

Camel kindness

Chris Hensman ´03

Changing course: CC students talk about why they transferred here

Past Issues

Contact Us

Address Change

College Homepage

Giving the gift of opportunity

Giving the gift of opportunity
Trustee Ann Werner Johnson ´68. Photo by Vickers & Beechler.

Trustee Ann Werner Johnson ´68 takes a special interest in upgrading CC´s living and learning spaces.

By Julie Novak

Math and chemistry didn´t come naturally to Ann Werner Johnson ´68 when she was a student at Connecticut College in the 1960s, but every week a local high school student visited her in Freeman House to be tutored.

Johnson, a history major from the Class of 1968, prepared carefully so she could stay on top of the material.
The arrangement helped them both, and Johnson hasn´t forgotten it.

“It was an hour a week that made me think about the outside world and not about what was going on in my life,” Johnson says.

That sensitivity and that focus on helping youth has been paramount throughout the ups and downs, and even tragedy, of Johnson´s life and career. She has committed herself to leadership roles in organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the United Way and hospital foundations, where her quiet yet commanding influence as a trustee or a member of an advisory board has made a difference.

Elected to the Connecticut College Board of Trustees in 1999, Johnson is the driving force behind the investment in and maintenance of campus facilities. She chairs the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees the upgrading of all the buildings on campus. The committee uses a report commissioned by the College in 2004 that evaluates the physical condition of each building as a guideline for prioritizing projects. The document is something Johnson studies judiciously, says Board of Trustees Chair Barbara Shattuck Kohn ´72, and her commitment to the campus grounds sets her apart from the rest of the board.

“The College has so many different needs and each one is just as important as the next, but this is her passion and number one priority,” Kohn says.

Johnson, who earned a certificate from the New York School of Interior Design and works on independent design projects, has taken a special interest in the renovations of Marshall and Hamilton residence halls and the College´s 45 classrooms. The living and learning spaces are a huge priority when it comes to improving the student experience, she says.

Beyond bricks and mortar, Johnson believes in the mission of the College. With her husband Tom, the retired chair and chief executive officer of Greenpoint Financial in New York City, she recently committed to a $3 million gift to the College over the next five years. The funds are undesignated for now, but Johnson plans to use her gift to “fill the gaps” as budgetary needs develop.

“For me, it´s a payback. It´s an appreciation of the four years I spent there as a student and the skills I learned in communication, critical thinking and the ability to handle pressure,” she says. “It´s also an investment in the future so those who come after me will have the same opportunities.”

As consistent donors over the years to CC and Trinity College — Tom´s alma mater in Hartford — the Johnsons see their giving choices as a partnership and contribute equally to each institution. At CC, they established a scholarship in their name and supported many campus projects over the years — especially the Annual Fund, which Johnson considers an obligation because it supports current spending for financial aid, campus facilities and other programs.

The depth of Johnson´s commitment to the future of CC is evident in her role on the Presidential Search Committee and in her trusteeship, Kohn says. She is a consensus builder who speaks what´s on her mind and values the opinions of others. Johnson brings that same tact to the board as a part of the executive, auditing and advancement and communications committees, Kohn says. Johnson also volunteers as a class agent and previously served as class president.

Kohn describes Johnson as “magnetic, funny, yet serious all at the same time. She has a glow about her that energizes and attracts the people around her.”

Johnson grew up in Kenosha, Wis., about an hour south of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. There was one CC graduate in the area, the wife of the local newspaper editor, who told her about the College and encouraged her to apply. Johnson moved to New York City after graduating and worked in finance for Chemical Bank and later as a portfolio assistant at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. She met Tom while working in the city. Their connection was immediate when they discovered their families lived 10 miles apart and their fathers attended high school together.

The spring of 2001 was a glorious time for the family. In May, their son, Tom, married. A month later, their daughter, Margaret, graduated from Northwestern University. Their son, Scott, a graduate of Trinity, was working as a securities analyst with the investment banking firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

“For four months I was the happiest person,” Johnson recalls.

But that changed on Sept. 11, 2001 when Flight 175 struck the second World Trade Center tower where Scott, who was 26, worked. He and 66 of his colleagues died in the terrorist attack.

The Johnsons still struggle with their grief, and Ann does not speak publicly about the events of that day. “You never know what life will bring, but 9/11 was not something anybody expected or could be prepared for,” she says.

The family has found an outlet for their grief as members of the Families Advisory Council of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., a group for families of the victims of the attacks that is providing advice on development of a memorial on the site. Tom is also a member of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, which is overseeing the construction of the memorial.

“Seeing Ann go through that heartache has shown me what a warm and caring person she is,” Kohn says. “She became passionate about what should be done downtown.”

Looking ahead, Johnson´s family continues to grow — Tom and she celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, Isabella, on Dec. 1, 2005 — and so does her vision for the College. She is looking forward to the improvement in campus facilities and CC´s new president.

“The College is well-poised for the future,” she says, “and I´m excited for what´s to come.”

Connecticut College Magazine

This page maintained by College Relations <>
General Feedback
Copyright © 2017