Elliot Johnson gives an acceptance speech in front of 7,000 FCCLA members in Orlando, Fla., July 12, after being elected national president of the organization for the 2012-2013 school year. Johnson, a senior at Brookings High School, will travel the country frequently this year as a representative of FCCLA and its 190,000 members. Photo by Lifetouch National School Studios
• Brookings teen will be the face of FCCLA this year
BROOKINGS – When Brookings High School senior Elliot Johnson was just a freshman, he attended his first national leadership conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). That’s when he saw the organization’s 10 national officers onstage and decided he would be up there someday himself.
“I knew I was determined that I wanted to become one of them one day,” Johnson said last week.
On July 12 Johnson achieved his goal, when he was elected by his peers to be national FCCLA president. Now the 18-year-old will lead FCCLA’s team of 10 national officers and represent its 190,000-plus members to the rest of the country, during his senior year at BHS.
Being national president is the highest honor a student can receive in FCCLA, said Joline Dunbar, adviser for the Brookings chapter. Johnson is more than ready for the job, she said.
“Elliot is a natural leader,” Dunbar said. “His people skills give him an edge when it comes to motivating and energizing members. He is a great speaker and can think on his feet. That makes his stage presence strong and also helps him work with any size of group.
“He leads by being involved, and he is passionate about what he is doing. Students love his energy and excitement and adults see the sincerity and true love he has for this organization and what it can do.”
Johnson, the son of Marty and the Rev. Teri Johnson of Brookings, said he feels he was born a leader and is determined to fulfill that role.
In FCCLA, he started early: He served as a freshman officer for the Brookings Freshman Chapter in 2008-2009, as VP of public relations for the Brookings Senior Chapter during his sophomore year, and as first vice president to the state president during his junior year.
He has participated in STAR Events (Students Taking Action with Recognition) all three years, advancing to nationals as a freshman. He has also been active in Brookings FCCLA’s community service and educational activities, Dunbar said.
He was the chairperson of the FACTS (Families Acting for Community Family Safety) projects during his sophomore year. He presented workshops on the dangers of texting and driving at BHS, area schools and state and national FCCLA meetings. He has also been very involved in recruiting others to join and become active FCCLA members.
Competed against 26
At the national conference, Johnson competed with 26 other FCCLA members for one of 10 national officer spots. A 12-teen nominating committee narrowed the field to 20, and all 20 gave a speech to the national delegation, which includes representatives from all 50 U.S. states, the Virgin Island, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
After the speech, they were asked one follow-up question to show how they think on their feet.
“It’s kind of like a Miss America pageant, I guess, but instead of giving a talent, they give a speech,” Johnson said.
These delegates chose the 10 national officers by a vote. Then, the 10 sat down together, said which office they’d prefer to have, and chose who would hold which role by a silent vote. Several of the 10 ran for president, but Johnson was chosen.
As president, he will travel to FCCLA national headquarters in Reston, Va., to attend training and program planning sessions. He will also help to set policies and develop future goals for the organization, as a member of the FCCLA national board of directors.
He and other national officers will represent FCCLA by leading workshops and giving speeches locally and throughout the country.
“I’ll do a lot of facilitating and delegating. We’re all basically the face of FCCLA now, so it will require a lot of traveling,” Johnson said.
Johnson already knows he’ll be going to Washington, D.C., in December for leadership training, teaching other teens how to lobby their congressmen, and to Nashville in January to plan next summer’s national leadership conference.
One of his goals as president is to gain more recognition for the organization.
“One of my personal goals was to get FCCLA better known on the national scale,” Johnson said. “Hopefully through more corporate sponsors we can communicate to let ourselves be more recognized. A lot of times, a lot of people don’t know what FCCLA is.”
Goal since freshman year
Johnson worked very hard to earn the title of national president, Dunbar said. He decided it was his goal when he was a freshman and took advantage of every opportunity to make himself a better candidate. Brookings is in a very strong district with tough competition from area chapters for district offices and the opportunity to hold a state office. Having such a strong tradition in this area makes all the chapters better, Dunbar said.
From his time as president, Johnson will reap lasting benefits, she added.
“Over the next two years he will have the opportunity to meet many influential people. He will go to a number of different states as well as Washington, D.C., to attend meetings. The networking is invaluable and that will be the biggest plus for him in his future,” Dunbar said.
“Besides the networking, just making the personal connections and friendships is a great experience. He has two years of those opportunities because he will serve on the national board of directors for the next two years.”
Brookings FCCLA will support Johnson in any way it can this coming year, by participating in state and national projects, as it has always done, and sending as many members to the 2013 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. as it can.
Because of Johnson’s position as national president, Dunbar has been named a national executive council adviser for the 2013-2013 school year.
She will support Johnson in his work as president, travel to FCCLA national headquarters to attend programming sessions, receive professional development training and other activities.
She will also help to plan the focus and content of the adult sessions at FCCLA’s national cluster meetings this coming year and assist national staff at the 2013 National Leadership Conference.
Contact Charis Prunty at firstname.lastname@example.org.