We met with Wendell Johnson of Danbury to discuss his inspiring and fulfilling mission to help students in the area achieve future success. After a long career in the executive search industry, Wendell has dedicated his time and energy in his retirement years to the student-focused nonprofit he founded with his late wife Beverly.
What was your occupation in your pre-retirement years?
I headed my own executive search firm from 1978 until 2008. The firm, Wendell L. Johnson Associates, Inc. was based in Fairfield County and it was retained by Fortune 500 and other world-renowned corporations to recruit middle to senior level top-flight executives with superior records of accomplishments in: information technology, accounting and finance, marketing, corporate law, strategic planning, manufacturing, engineering, research and development and human resources. Executives who qualified as successful candidates for these positions possessed graduate degrees, coupled with 7 or more years of experience in their given disciplines, and two plus years in a leadership role. Their annual cash compensation was from $100,000 to $5000,000.
Tell us about your current lifestyle, interests and passions.
My lifestyle is centered around family, specifically, my two very talented and lovely daughters Michelle and Leslie and their spouses and children. In addition to my nieces, nephews and cousins.
My interests and passions lie in focusing on a nonprofit, which my late wife Beverly and I founded in 1984. It’s the Annual Multicultural Business Youth Educational Services Embarkment (AMBYESE). Basically, for gratis its mission is to jump-start the academic and career development of college-bound secondary students attending schools in Fairfield and Westchester counties, via AMBYESE’s four-phased initiative: Student Tracking and Academic Fulfillment Force (STAFF), Students Endeavoring to Succeed, I Can (Y.E.S., I Can), the Annual Youth Educational Conference and Transitioning from High School to College. To date more than 14,000 students have participated in AMBYESE programs.
What are your latest projects?
My latest projects include strengthening our partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s Pre- College Program. Our partnerships provides an opportunity for three of our raising juniors / seniors scholars to be awarded scholarships to their renowned and extremely highly selective two – week residential program. Our challenge is to identify students who are within the top five percent of their respective class and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to being involved in community service, as well an established track-record of leadership.
“To date more than 14,000 students have participated in AMBYESE programs, all made possible by Wendell and his late wife Beverly.”
What do you think about Western Connecticut as a place to live one’s retirement years?
In my opinion, Western Connecticut is an ideal place to live during seniors citizens retirement years, because it has New England’s beauty and charm, excellent health-care and higher educational institutions and it’s conveniently located within a reasonable distance to the greatest city in the world, “The Big Apple.”
What advice do you have for other area seniors to “age well” in Connecticut?
My advise or other area seniors to age well in Connecticut, would be to research the vast amount of amenities that are available within Western Connecticut, then to take full advantage of its enormous reservoir.