SOMA President & CEO Robert A. Johnson Announces Retirement

Robert A. Johnson Announces Retirement from Special Olympics Massachusetts

Robert (Bob) Johnson, president & CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts has announced that he will be retiring in March of 2013. Johnson has been with Special Olympics for 23 years, serving eight years as Vice President for Marketing & Development and 15 as president & CEO.

Over his Special Olympics career Johnson has made many advances in the movement, both in Massachusetts and across the organization. Most recently he completed the move to a new headquarters for the Massachusetts program. The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA is a 25,000-square-foot facility, boasting not only state-of-the-art office and meeting spaces, but a full-size gymnasium, a half-size soccer field and an exercise room. The facility is now widely used by athletes for training as well as their coaches and other volunteers.

Johnson has been highly regarded in the Special Olympics movement, contributing to countless efforts and committees on the national level and in Massachusetts, in the process helping to bring many programs to new heights, including: Healthy Athletes, Unified Sports and the Young Athletes program.

Prior to joining Special Olympics Massachusetts, Johnson spent 19 years in public education as a special education teacher, special education director and finally as director of the Bureau of Program Audit and Assistance for the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Division of Special Education.  Mr. Johnson left his mark there through his contributions to the development of Chapter 766, Massachusetts’ comprehensive special education law which guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs, ages 3-22, to an educational program best suited to their needs. In 1987 he authored the state’s regulations for the approval of private schools serving publicly funded students with special needs.

He was among the first to graduate from Westfield State College (now Westfield State University) with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education Administration.  He then went on to do additional graduate work at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where his area of concentration was School Law. In 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Westfield State University. He currently serves on the Westfield State University Foundation’s Board of Directors and the Greater Marlborough Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.

Johnson lives with his wife, Ellen of 42 years and has four grown children and nine grandchildren. “I am proud to have worked continuously for the improvement of the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during a period in history when more positive change has occurred for people with IDD than in any other similar period in the history of mankind,” said Johnson reflecting on his 43-year career. “I am especially proud of the work that has been done at Special Olympics Massachusetts to give Special Olympics athletes an opportunity to reach their full potential.” He understands that much remains to be done moving forward, but that it is now time for a new generation to carry the torch.

Robert Johnson – Retirement Notice to Board – 8/14/12

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