Saturday, July 13, 2024

Lisa Johnson: Two Decades of Dedication and Transformation at the Bossier Chamber

by BIZ Magazine

In a rapidly changing world, Lisa Johnson has stood as a beacon of stability and progress in the Bossier business community. As she marks her 20th anniversary as President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, we look back on her remarkable journey, the challenges she has faced, and the indelible impact she has made on the region.

“The reason my good friend Lisa Johnson has remained at the helm so much longer than other chamber presidents around the country is because she combines extraordinary talent with hard work and endless energy. She represents Bossier Parish and our surrounding area with great class and contagious enthusiasm—whether she is presiding over a ribbon-cutting for a new local business or advocating for North Louisiana in her frequent visits to our nation’s capital. Lisa has been a trusted leader and a trusted friend to all of us, and we wish her many blessings for many more years of success!”

MIKE JOHNSON, U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

Early Days and Evolution

When Lisa Johnson first stepped into her role at the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, she faced a unique set of challenges. “When I started as the director of the chamber, my title was actually Executive Vice-President. I did not have an office, a desk, nor a telephone as the exiting director was still intact as my consultant and had not moved yet,” she recalls. This lack of basic resources could have been a significant setback for many, but Johnson viewed it as a part of the job’s complexity.

Moreover, Johnson had to navigate the typical hurdles of a new position, such as building relationships with staff, board members, and the community. “There are many areas to cover in the management of running a chamber of commerce. I was chosen because of my contacts and being a Bossier native. However, I had not a clue what a  chamber of commerce actually did,” she admits. Her candidness about her initial ignorance underscores the transformative learning journey she embarked upon.

“Lisa Johnson is a great advocate for Bossier Parish. The Bossier Parish Police Jury appreciates Lisa tremendously for all of her efforts. She is a true partner for the Bossier Parish Police Jury and she is always there and ready to help whenever we need her.”


BUTCH FORD, bossier parish Administrator

Over the past two decades, the Bossier Chamber has significantly evolved under Johnson’s leadership. “We have evolved as one of the top leaders supporting our military and their families. We are also known as a leader in advocacy for pro-business issues, traveling to DC three times a year, to the state capitol during sessions, and attending all local city and parish meetings,” Johnson explains. The Chamber’s growing reputation is a testament to her relentless efforts and strategic vision.

“During my administration, it has truly been an honor to work with Lisa Johnson and I value her partnership. I consider Lisa to be not only the leading Ambassador for Bossier City but she is also our Business Community’s greatest cheerleader. I consider Lisa’s greatest strengths to be her ability to work with all the stakeholders in our community and her passion and commitment to locate businesses and then work to help them be successful. Ms. Johnson and the Bossier Chamber has created a winning team.”

Tommy Chandler,
Bossier City Mayor

Proudest Accomplishments

Reflecting on her tenure, Johnson highlights several proud accomplishments. Among them is the Chamber’s receipt of the 4-Star and later the 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Only 1% receive this designation,” she notes, emphasizing the rarity and prestige of this honor.

Johnson also takes pride in the Chamber being named one of the inaugural Military Friendly Chambers of Commerce by Vetrepreneur Magazine in 2012. Her advocacy for military families is particularly dear to her heart. “Years ago, I raised local dollars to support a Military Student Transition Consultant to assist our Military-Connected Children in school. Today, our school system is a leader in serving our military-connected children and in creating Purple Star Schools,” she shares.

A recent highlight is the establishment of the Community Development Institute (CDI) in Louisiana. “We are currently hosting our inaugural class of cohorts from throughout the state in 2024,” she says, demonstrating her commitment to ongoing education and community development.

“There is no bigger cheerleader for the City and Parish of Bossier than Lisa Johnson. Lisa has vision for her hometown and works at every level of government to make Bossier better. Watching her build alliances and champion progress, from here to Baton Rouge and on Capitol Hill, is inspiring. She has certainly helped Bossier Schools gain a seat at the table where we did not necessarily have one before, because Lisa understands the key role public education plays in the strength and prosperity of a community. Congratulations to Lisa for 20 outstanding years at the Bossier Chamber! I am eager to see where her leadership takes us next.”

Sonja Bailes, Bossier Schools
Public Relations Liaison

Overcoming Obstacles

Like any long-serving leader, Johnson has faced her share of obstacles, particularly regarding manpower and financial resources. “As a non-profit organization (c) 6, our finances are derived through membership and sponsorships. To maintain quality personnel requires significant financial means,” she explains. 

To address these challenges, Johnson spearheaded the establishment of two foundations: the Bossier Innovates Foundation, supporting workforce development and education, and the Northwest Louisiana Military Support Foundation, aiding military families. “These foundations opened opportunities for funding through grants,” she adds, illustrating her innovative approach to overcoming financial hurdles.

These experiences have profoundly shaped Johnson’s leadership style. “These challenges taught me to be persistent in doing what is right for the community. Giving up and giving in was never an option,” she asserts. Her dedication to her staff is equally strong, believing that investing in them leads to a mutual commitment to the Chamber’s mission.

“Lisa is a self motivated hard worker who has proven herself as President/CEO of the chamber. Congratulations on 20 years !”

Julian Whittington, Bossier Parish Sheriff

Industry Changes

Over the past 20 years, the business landscape in Bossier has transformed significantly. Johnson vividly recalls the early days: “When I started in 2004, the Brookshires Grocery Arena (formerly CenturyLink/CenturyTel Center) and the casino industry were in their infant stages, the Louisiana Boardwalk and the Sterling Shopping Center were being built, the mall was full, and the National Cyber Research Park was a pasture.”

The advent of COVID-19 brought additional changes, particularly in retail. “We have seen the large retail establishments adapt or close, while the local boutiques and restaurants have continued to flourish,” she observes. This shift highlights the community’s strong support for local businesses, a trend Johnson finds encouraging.

The role of chambers of commerce has also evolved, adapting to economic shifts and technological advancements. “The role of the Bossier Chamber has evolved into what our vision statement suggests: To be the collaboration hub for business in Northwest Louisiana,” Johnson states. This vision has guided the Chamber in navigating the complexities of the modern business environment.

“Lisa was one of the first people to welcome me to the role of Shreveport Chamber President when I started 7 years ago. Since that time, she has been a consummate partner and collaborator, embracing ways for us to work together on behalf of our community and region, whether here in Shreveport-Bossier, in Baton Rouge or in Washington DC. Lisa will be the first to tell you that she loves her job, and her constant innovation and positive attitude make that visible for all to see. Lisa exhibits a can-do attitude, a facility for public policy and a stalwart leadership style that are an asset to the Bossier Chamber and to our community. Congratulations on your (first!) 20 years at the Bossier Chamber and thank you for your decades of service to Shreveport-Bossier. ”

DR. Tim Magner, President,
Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce

Looking Forward

As she looks to the future, Johnson’s vision for the Bossier Chamber of Commerce is ambitious and forward-thinking. “The vision for the future of the Bossier Chamber is far-reaching. One that requires a full strategic plan to be written and supported by the board of directors and the community alike,” she explains. Community development and training future leaders are high on her priority list, along with business retention and growth.

Her advice to aspiring leaders is rooted in relationship building. “Building relationships is the most important thing you can do in life. You don’t always have to agree with the process or the conversation, but in order to be successful, you have to have the ability to sit face to face, have a grown-up conversation, weigh the pros and cons, and come to a compromise,” she advises.

“A huge portion of the economic success that Bossier has enjoyed can be attributed to Lisa Johnson. Her attitude, tactical ability, tenacity, etc. has resulted in her being extremely successful in all that she sets out to accomplish. In short, she gets the job done. And, it is not just economics either. Essentially, the entire tone and tenure of what it is to be in Bossier can be defined by Lisa Johnson.”

Lo Walker, Former Mayor of Bossier City

Personal Insights

Despite two decades in a demanding role, Johnson remains motivated and inspired. “This is my home. This is the home of my children and grandchildren. Many things have aspired over the last 20 years, but there are still many places to go. I truly believe that God is not finished with me here, yet,” she says, underscoring her deep-rooted commitment to the community.

Balancing professional and personal life is a challenge Johnson acknowledges. “As I share with my staff, family is most important. I have worked and raised a family all my professional life. I prioritize my life with faith, family, and friends,” she shares. Her ability to maintain this balance is a testament to her resilience and dedication.


In Their Own Words

“Ms. Johnson has the consummate positive voice that everyone associates with Bossier. We are certainly blessed to have her forward thinking leadership at the helm of the Chamber.”” 

JASON ROWLAND, BOSSIER PARISH SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS


“I have known Lisa from her days at the Tourist Bureau prior to her coming to the Bossier Chamber. Her accomplishments as the President and CEO of the Chamber are great. I have seen her grow and bring the Bossier Chamber to a higher level. Her leadership and involvement in our community has shown her commitment to the Chamber.  It is evident Lisa cares about the Chamber and her Community. Congratulations Lisa for a job well done.” 

SANDY CIMINO, BANKING PROFESSIONAL


“Lisa has been a tremendous asset to the growth of Bossier Parish. I credit her for always seeking to bring business and government together to find a way to better our community. She is a stalwart supporter of all things promoting excellence and innovation. Lisa deserves tremendous accolades for these past two decades of exemplary service. ” 

PATRICK JACKSON, BOSSIER PARISH ATTORNEY


“Lisa Johnson’s 20 years are defined by her tireless energy and servant’s heart. Her willingness to support and ability to elevate those around her make us all better. Congratulations, my dear friend!” 

DR. JIM HENDERSON, LA TECH PRESIDENT


“Lisa Johnson is a born leader!  I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of knowing her for over 20 years.  She is a woman who has always wanted to serve her home town of Bossier, to be a better place for everyone.”  I’m privileged to call her a business woman, a leader, community activist, a mother and now grandmother and a friend.  Bossier City is fortunate to have her in our community! 

PAM GLORIOSO, BOSSIER PARISH POLICE JUROR

— BIZ Magazine

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