MS. IRIS A. JOHNSON, MHS

Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Johnson's career at the EOC started in 1977, when she enrolled her son in the EOC Head Start Program, where management realized her dynamic talent for community organization. Elected as the Chairperson of the Nassau County Head Start Policy Council, her natural passion to advocate for children and families was set in motion and she became a founding member of the New York State Head Start Parent Association.    Thus, began her meteoric rise at the EOC working in positions of increasing responsibility, including:  Nutrition Coordinator, Director of Health & Nutrition, Director of   Hempstead Community Action Program, Deputy Director, and Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer. She received a Master of Human Services (MHS) Degree from Lincoln University, Family Development credential from Cornell University and received numerous certificates in executive level training. Ms. Johnson's expansive career demonstrates the values she imparts to individuals to:  Unlock your own highest potential, focus on goals, keep the vision, and to help others.

Iris A. Johnson, is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC) of Nassau County, Inc., she provides leadership to the board, advisory council and staff in its mission, simply stated “Helping People Changing Lives.” She is the first woman to hold the position of CEO at the EOC, Nassau County's largest minority employer. (225 employees) Ms. Johnson is responsible for daily administration and oversees a budget of over $16 million dollars with proficiency in the areas of program development and implementation. Programs under her administration include:  Five (5) Community Action Programs and eight (8) Full-Year Head Start Programs (servicing 569 children and families); Other Programs include: Displaced Homemaker Multi-Service Center, Maternal and Infant Community Health Collaborative, Communications & Public Information, Re-Entry Program, Family Violence Program, Youth   Leadership Programs, a One-Stop Employment Service Center, Senior Citizen Programs, Immigration Legalization Assistance Program and Emergency Food and Shelter Programs.  Ms. Johnson also founded the Hempstead EOC award winning soccer program. Through these programs we serve over 15,000, youth, individuals and families yearly. As a result of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, The Long Beach Head Start program was destroyed. After being awarded $9,317,426.00 in funding, Ms. Johnson hired a minority contractor and built a state of art head start building in Long Beach servicing sixty seven (67) children. This three story, state of the art facility has a rooftop playground, security station, meeting room, and elevator. The Long Beach Head Start Program opened in 2015.

Ms. Johnson is highly recognized in Nassau County for strong problem resolution, negotiation skills, and confidence in making on-the-spot decisions.    She has the ability to formulate a powerful team-building approach to direct, develop and motivate associates to be the best they can be. She believes in doing things right the first time around because "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."

 

An advocate for all people, Ms. Johnson actively participated in drug marches in the Hempstead, Roosevelt, Freeport, Long Beach, Port Washington and Glen Cove communities in the late 1980’s. Ms. Johnson was also a strong proponent for the Emergency Protection tenant act ensuring that tenants in New York State received affordable housing and stabilized rent and represented individuals at Department of Social Service hearing when they were denied benefits, as well as individuals and seniors applying for social security and disability benefits. Ms. Johnson helped establish an alternative school at 100 Main Street in Hempstead. Ms. Johnson along with the EOC fought to keep the WIC program in Nassau County and became satellite centers for WIC services and the Nassau County Department of Social Services., Ms. Johnson testified before the NY State assembly for funding for programs for low income and poor people to benefit throughout NY State, particularly Nassau County. As a key member of the New York State Community Action Association and the New York State Community Service Block Grant Advisory Council, Ms. Johnson assisted in writing legislation governing community action programs and developing policies for minorities, low income and poor individuals within York State. Ms. Johnson has appeared before the Nassau County Legislature numerous times advocating for funding and programs for youth and families throughout Nassau County. Ms. Johnson continues to assist individuals in cultivating the basic principles of perseverance and personal responsibility to foster health, personal, educational, and professional development. She is the first credentialed African­ American Family Development Program Instructor and Field Advisor of Long Island, completing training through Cornell University. Under Ms. Johnson's leadership and training, thirty-five (35) senior employees from the EOC became credentialed Family Development specialists through Cornell University. Through Ms. Johnson's visionary solutions, the Family Development  philosophy was adopted by the EOC and has become the standard by which EOC staff work from a strength-based approach, building respectful relationships and offering specialized services appropriate to each person’s needs.

 

Ms. Johnson promotes opportunities for young people. Ms. Johnson continues to raise funds for youth to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the Martin Luther King scholarship fund. Other programs that assist youth are the Youth Empowerment Career Training Initiative, (YECTI) program, College tours, Anti -Bullying Programs, Summer employment, after school programs, summer youth programs, soccer and martial arts. Youth also attend trips to museums and other institutions preserving the rich history and culture of African Americans and Latinos. Due to her commitment and dedication to young people, in the late 1980’s Ms. Johnson was the recipient of the first Youth Community Service Award from Planned Parenthood of Nassau County for working with young people to educate and increase awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV AIDS, work which she continues today.

 

Ms. Johnson has distinguished herself through leadership and active participation in work responsibilities and community involvement. As an accomplished workshop presenter and keynote speaker, Ms. Johnson has received numerous awards and citations for Professional Performance and Outstanding Community Service.

 

Those that Ms. Johnson are most proud of include:

  • Certificate of Merit from Town of Hempstead- Women’s issues in raising African American Males

  • EOC of Nassau County, Inc. - MLK Living the Dream Award

  • Glory House - Perseverance Award

  • Antioch Baptist Church - Pouring into Others Award

  • Hempstead High School - Trailblazer Award

  • County Executive Tom Suozzi - Women of Distinction Award

  • Women of Substance - Woman of the Year Community service Award

  • Long Island Million Women’s Fund - Leadership Award

  • Dale Anthony, Tough Talk - Humanitarian Award

  • Saint Paul Greater Faith - Perseverance in the Struggle Award

  • Ms. Johnson has received awards from the Hempstead, Roosevelt, Freeport and Lakeview NAACP

  • Nassau County Girl Scouts

  • Soroptimist International of Nassau County – Making a Difference for Women Award

  • Town of Hempstead Women’s History Month – Pathfinder Award

  • Sisters In The Struggle, SHERO Award

  • New York Metropolitan Chapter of Alabama State University Award

  • Operation Get Ahead Gerard Burnett, Jr. - Community Advocate Award

  • New York State Head Start Association Silver Anniversary:  Cited as Successful Head Start Parent Climbs Ladder of Success Nassau County

  • Nassau County CAP Director's Association:  Visionary Award Minority Community

 

Previous Affiliations / Local, State Boards:

 

  • Town of Hempstead Workforce Investment Board

  • New York State Community Service Block Grant

  • Nassau County Minority Health Task Force

  • Minority Community Policy Action Network

  • Nassau County Health and Welfare Council

 

Member:

  • New York State Family Development Association

  • New York State Head Start Friends Association

  • New York State Community Action Association

  • National Community Action Partnership

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The Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc., a community action agency, through collaboration and partnership, empowers income-eligible families to gain the knowledge, skills and resources to improve the quality of their lives.

In pursuit of this mission, the EOC will:

•  Advocate on clients behalf to provide more opportunities and fewer barriers.

•  Provide educational and economic resources to increase client self-sufficiency.

•  Help reduce the causes and effects of poverty.

•  Foster citizen participation to initiate programs and improve existing services based      

    upon local community needs

© 2019 Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Address: 134 Jackson Street Hempstead, NY 11550 | Phone: (516) 292-9710

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