Danielle Johnson – Director of HR, Compliance & DEI in AI tech at Impact Observatory
After earning her B.S. in Social Science, Danielle Johnson began her 10+ -year DEIA journey during her 6.5-year tenure at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. There, she worked on numerous studies in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. While contributing as a Senior Staffer on many sociology issues surrounding diverse populations, she had the opportunity to glean information from some of the brightest minds in the world, yet there was a glaring lack of diversity amongst the subject-matter experts that she couldn’t ignore. Over time, it became clear that the lack of diversity couldn’t be the responsibility of just one organization. As a symptom of larger systemic issues, it would require a collective approach. Danielle knew further growth required a true understanding of the current social and professional barriers that the BIPOC, Disability and other marginalized Communities were facing in the workforce. With that understanding, Danielle took her passion for social and professional equality to the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in Silver Spring, MD.
At AUCD, she began working alongside the Senior Director of Operations, Laura Martin, as an Operations Manager. There, through mentorship, graduate studies, experience and training, she became AUCD’s first Human Resources Manager. She would have many firsts at AUCD including: creating AUCD’s first Accommodation Policy; building an HR infrastructure with accessibility at the forefront of every component; creating company polices and procedures in plain language; planning and coordinating accessible company events; and helping to manage an annual 5-day disability conference for hundreds of attendees with various disabilities and disability trainees. She marched for disability rights on The Hill, coordinated disability fundraising galas, and had the pleasure of working with and hiring employees with visible and invisible disabilities. One of Danielle’s proudest moments was eagerly supporting her co-worker, Disability Leader & President Obama Appointee, Liz Weintraub, as she became the first woman with an intellectual disability to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanagh Hearings. She found it a great honor to help create a professional culture for amazing advocates and professional’s like Liz to thrive in such an inclusive setting. Still, Danielle realized that so many people don’t have the same opportunities to work in such a culturally-competent environment. She also watched her two nieces Brionna & Jordan, both born with rare syndromes & disabilities, triumph over adversity everyday, and became acutely aware that it certainly took a village to do so. As she moved on, and grew as a Director of HR in the Mental Health industry, Danielle knew exactly where her passion for DEIA would make the biggest difference: the technology industry.
Currently, Danielle leads the HR Department at Impact Observatory, Inc., a tech-for-good, A.I.-powered startup headquartered in Washington, D.C., as the Director of HR, Compliance & DEI. She credits co-founders Steve Brumby & Samantha Hyde with trusting her to build IO’s inclusive and culturally-competent HR Department with a clear commitment to DEIA in tech. That commitment drives Danielle to champion the importance of all facets of diversity within the tech community through learning to lead from where you currently are. She believes that it is the mission of she and other DEIA professionals in tech to be the “village” diverse technology professionals need. With there being a variety of ways to achieve diversity and disability inclusion for any company, no matter the size; today there is simply no longer a reason for every company not to join the charge!