Hamtramck Parks Conservancy Selects First Executive Director
HAMTRAMCK, MI.- May 7, 2022 – The Hamtramck Parks Conservancy (HPC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dichondra R. Johnson, MBA, MPA,CBSP, as its first Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 2022. Ms. Johnson is a highly respected industry leader who brings
more than 25-years of experience in the arts, business, education, non-profit organizational management and government. She has diverse expertise in program development and creating
mission-driven partnership collaborations. With a love of the outdoors and public spaces, Ms.Johnson
is thrilled to serve the residents of Hamtramck, Michigan and metropolitan Detroit in her new leadership role.
Johnson comes to HPC as the founder and CEO at DRJ & Associates, LLC, which provides project-based business services that support growing organizations in acquiring business resources while also cultivating diverse talent. Johnson’s awarded achievements include serving in progressive roles in local, state, and federal government. Johnson spearheaded state-wide, strategic veteran’s higher education programs as Michigan’s first veteran’s education strategist and start-up member of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) in 2013, and is the architect of the Michigan Veteran Friendly Schools program which received the U.S. 2020 Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award.
The Hamtramck Parks Conservancy is a collaboration between the city, the public schools, and community partners seeking to improve green spaces and recreation activities for city and area residents. In Johnson’s new role she is charged with executing the Hamtramck Recreation District plan which seeks to promote the creation, operation and maintenance of green spaces, recreational
grounds and facilities for public use to provide health and education opportunities to residents and visitors.
The plan proposes to radically transform 26-acres of underutilized open space, recreation fields, and disconnected historic sites into a community-invested, Dichondra R. Johnson inclusive and world-class park. She believes that the transformation of the Hamtramck Recreation District will enrich the lives of all who visit and use the park spaces. The new District will enhance the identity of Hamtramck as a place
that honors history and values equity, diversity, family physical activity and leisure.
Johnson will oversee the renovation and expansion of Hamtramck’s Veteran’s Park and Playfair, site of the historic Hamtramck Stadium, which was home to the Negro League Detroit Stars (1 of 5 League stadiums left standing in the U.S.), and historic Keyworth Stadium home of the Detroit City Football Club. The stadiums and Veteran’s Park are open throughout 2022-2023 for the first HPC’s season of outdoor programming and sporting activities.
Under Johnson’s leadership the HPC is partnering with local groups and Hamtramck Schools to host park clean-ups, walking and outdoor networking clubs, arts programs, baseball, soccer, USTA-sponsored tennis clinics, community outreach events and other recreational activities throughout the year. HPC plans to launch its HPC Ambassador Program (volunteer, donor & membership program) this year, and will expand amenities and program offerings for the upcoming 2023-2024 season and beyond.
Johnson received a Master of Public Administration & Affairs from Western Michigan University (2014); Master of Business Administration, Davenport University (2006); Bachelor of Science, Eastern Michigan University (2000); and is a fellow of the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP), Michigan State
University (2011) and a licensed Michigan realtor.
Career highlights of business and community leadership by Ms. Johnson include:
- In 2019 Johnson led the successful Midwest expansion and creation of the Michigan StreetWise Partners, a nationally recognized nonprofit mentorship organization offering career development programs designed to increase employment opportunities for under-resourced and overlooked communities.
- Her leadership and community engagement contributions while supporting the statewide Michigan Census operation, serving as State Deputy Director for the Michigan 2020 Census Office during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, led to an increased Michigan self-response rate, with 3.6% more households self-responding in 2020 than in 2010 (71.3% vs. 67.7%).
- She orchestrated the Michigan Veterans Education Initiative campus program formerly housed at twelve (12) Michigan colleges and universities and in securing $500k in matching legislative fund support for partner institutions; was integral in MVAA’s partnering organizations receiving over $2 million in foundation grants and other support for veterans.
- Launched a new U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Veterans Affairs registered apprenticeship program while assisting DRJ clients in receiving over $600K in workforce development funds for staff training and development programs.
- Managed business expansion, retention and growth in Wayne County with projects representing $30 million in private capital investment while serving as a state Business Development Manager, and assisted more than 150 Wayne County businesses in receiving $15 million in resources, services and support under her tenure.
- In 2011, she was selected by the Lansing Regional Sister City Commission to represent greater Lansing on a cultural arts, education and economic development mission to Lansing’s Sister City, Otsu, Japan.
- Early career, Johnson hosted and developed over 250 arts education and artist residency programs throughout Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit while serving with the University Musical Society (UMS) at the University of Michigan, to include world-renowned touring performing arts organizations, such as The Royal Shakespeare Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., The Guthrie Theater, The Apollo Theater ‘On Tour’, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
For more information and to see a schedule of upcoming events, visit the Hamtramck Parks Conservancy website at https://hamtramckparks.com/events