Vanessa Johnson

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Vanessa Johnson, JD
Executive Vice President, NAPWA


Vanessa Johnson has volunteered and worked in the HIV/AIDS field for approximately 14 years.

Vanessa currently serves as the Executive Vice President for the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). Vanessa oversees NAPWA’s capacity building assistance (CBA) programs and is responsible for designing effective community mobilization programs with a special focus on increasing the number of collaborative community efforts that encourage African Americans (Positive African American Network) and Latinos/Hispanics (SABER) to know their HIV status.

Prior to coming to NAPWA in 2006, Vanessa co-founded and established the first African American community based organization dedicated to HIV prevention work in the Northeast Region of New York State, the Capital District African American Coalition on AIDS (CDAACA). She served as CDAACA’s Deputy Director and oversaw its development as an organization and designed a number of innovative and effective HIV prevention programs and trainings. In addition, she served on a number of local, regional, and national community related boards and planning bodies and was responsible for a variety of community, government, and academic institution collaborations and partnerships to ensure sustainable and culturally relevant and appropriate programs and trainings for people living with HIV/AIDS.

This combination of personal, community and work-related experiences has also led to Vanessa serving as a speaker, presenter, lecturer, workshop facilitator, trainer, and board member. In terms of Board membership, Vanessa is currently Chair for the National women and AIDS Collective (NWAC) and a member of the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network (NBWHAN). 

Vanessa is a 1990 graduate of Temple University Law School. In addition she was recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a 2009 New Researcher and asked to present her work on Common Threads, a leadership development training for women and same gender loving men of African Descent living with HIV/AIDS, at the 2009 CDC National HIV Prevention Conference. She is also one of twenty (20) 2009 Honorees in recognition of SisterLove’s 20th Anniversary, the 2007 Gloria Award (Ms. Foundation), the 2004 NYS Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Award, and the 1999 Paul G. Hearne/Association of People with Disabilities Award.