Black History Month Feature: Elmira’s triple threat, Michele Johnson

Black History Month

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM)- Michele Johnson is Elmira’s triple threat: a beloved mother, the first black CEO of YWCA Elmira and this year’s Athena Award recipient.

“I was born and raised in Elmira, went to local schools; I had some really great experiences growing up. I’m really proud to be back in Elmira to raise my family and maybe change lives,” said Johnson.

YWCA Elmira’s motto is ‘eliminating racism, empowering women’ and with Michele in charge, she plans on doing just that.

Johnson said she plans on creating mentorship programs for teen moms and women who need guidance.

“Women in their first job really need a mentor and there are a lot of strong women in this community that could help younger women, ” said Johnson.

She says that the women that work with her come from similar backgrounds.

“I think the community supports the YWCA, since Michele came. We’ve always had diversity in our programs, but I thought it was great to have a first black CEO here,” says Debbie Semski, the director of school age childcare of KIDSWORLD at YWCA Elmira.

There are future plans in store for the current YWCA building.

Johnson said, “We are at capacity in this building for childcare. We’re a New York State licensed program and we are licensed to the Hilt, so we are looking for a bigger building to provide more childcare.”

Stick with 18 News throughout the entire month of February, as we bring you more black history month stories.

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