Today we continue our blog series introducing you to the members of the Kinder Foundation team. These colleagues are essential to the success of the Foundation’s mission of making impactful gifts that transform Houston in significant ways.
Today we introduce you to CJ Johnson, Kinder Foundation’s receptionist. CJ provides exceptional administrative support for the Kinder Foundation and family office.
What books, podcasts, articles, or other content are you currently consuming? What are you enjoying or learning from them?
I’m an avid podcast listener and reader so the list is very long. Some of my favorite podcasts are NPR’s Up First, The New York Times’ The Daily, Pod Save America, Ologies and Maintenance Phase. I love podcasts that keep me updated on the new and politics or teach me new things about science or culture.
Book-wise, I’m currently in a bit of a non-fiction binge, I just finished The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown and Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fatphobia by Sabrina Strings. Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to look more closely at the social structures, inequity, and injustice that our society is built on. I want to better understand the world I live in and the space I occupy so I can help it change for the better in the future. When I’m not consuming non-fiction media, you’ll probably find me with my nose stuck in a fantasy book.
Is there something about the Kinder Foundation that is meaningful to you that many people may not know?
One of the things that impressed me from day one of my time with the Kinder Foundation is the deep thought and care that goes into every single project we take on. The Kinder Foundation is never just going to fulfill a grant and walk away as if the job is done. In fact, that is merely the beginning of the job for the Foundation. I admire the hands-on approach we have. With each of the projects and organizations we support, we want to make sure they’re set up for complete success.
For instance, when Good Reason Houston was first started, we gave them space in our offices to work from while they got their feet under them. It was interesting to see the very beginning of Good Reason Houston and to see what a wonderful organization they’ve grown into today.
I am also always impressed by the thoughtfulness the Foundation puts into projects, I love that we reach out to community leaders, regular citizens and partner with other organizations to make sure whatever project we’re putting forth is right for the community it serves. This is especially important considering just how diverse Houston is in so many ways. The Kinder Foundation truly strives to make Houston a better place for every single Houstonian and that is the most meaningful thing to me.
What is the most surprising or exciting part of your work with the Kinder Foundation?
When I started at the Foundation I admit that I was very unsure of where I wanted my professional career to go, but from my first interview with them, I knew the Kinder Foundation would be a great place to start.
Since that first meeting in 2016 working at the Foundation has completely inspired me to move in directions I hadn’t considered previously. Working in the non-profit sector I can honestly say I haven’t met a single person who isn’t giving their everything to better our society and it is so exciting and inspiring. So, I took that inspiration and earlier this year I applied to the Graduate College of Social Work at The University of Houston to earn a Master of Social Work. I want to contribute more to Houston and help create a greater quality of life and equality for all who live here. I don’t yet know if I’ve been accepted to the program or not, but my fingers are crossed!
If you had no commitments and a full weekend to spend in Houston, what would you do?
One of my absolute favorite things about living in Houston is that there’s no shortage of things to do on any given day. I would start off my weekend by having dinner with my friends at one of my favorite restaurants, Thai Gourmet (and on this dream weekend, there would be no wait!). On Saturday I would love to have a lazy morning at home before picking up poke bowls from Hoke Poke in the Heights and going for a picnic on the new lawn at the Eastern Glades in Memorial Park. After that I would probably visit either Rienzi or the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens which are a part of the Museum of Fine Arts. Saturday evening calls for a trip to some of my favorite bars in Houston, either Lei Low or Truck Yard. On Sunday, I would love to go market hopping, hitting up any farmer markets I can find or maybe perusing all the cute and quirky little shops in the Heights. The rest of Sunday would probably be spent relaxing home with a good book or movie with my roommates and my two cats.