Dr. Ashanti Johnson

Blog Post created by RKamau-esristaff Employee on Feb 8, 2019

In light of Black History Month, participants of the Women’s Empowerment and Career Advancement Network group (WeCan) are commemorating this month by highlighting women of color, specifically black women, who have made significant contributions to conservation, GIS, as well as other social causes. We’ll publish the blog posts every Friday of this month, so stay tuned to learn about influential black women and their work.


This week, we’d like to highlight Ashanti Johnson. Ashanti has also made some contribution to the oceanography field, as does our very own Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist of Esri. She is a chemical oceanographer and Geo-chemist. Currently, she is the CEO and Superintendent of Cirrus Academy, a statewide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) charter school system in Georgia. She graduated with a B.S. in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Galveston, where she made history by becoming the first African American student body president. She then went on to receive a PhD in Oceanography from the same university in 1999.

She has been involved in various initiatives promoting diversity-focused scholarly activities that facilitate research and professional development experiences for students who represent diverse socioeconomic, cultural, gender, racial ,and academic backgrounds. She serves as director for two initiatives under the NASA umbrella: the NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative and the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success initiative, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.


In 2010, she received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House in recognition of her work bridging professional development activities for underrepresented minorities. About 3 years ago, she received a 2016 American Geophysical Union Excellence in Geophysical Education Award and was later conferred as an American Geophysical Union Fellow. Last year, she was recognized as one of the 10 Black Women changing the world via science and technology in Ebony Magazine.


Ashanti Johnson is a force to be reckoned with, and it was without  question that she be highlighted this week in commemoration of Black History Month.