White House official speaks to BSC students

Photo of Drs. Vanzo, Johnson and Kirkland

Dr. Alissa Johnson, center, the deputy chief information officer for the Executive Office of the President, is introduced by Bainbridge State College Associate Professor of History Michael Kirkland, on the right, while Associate Professor of Political Science and Geography John Vanzo welcomes her to his class.

The deputy chief information officer for President Obama told some Bainbridge State College students that her most stressful 12 hours is during the President’s annual State of the Union address and that working for the White House is a passion.

Dr. Alissa Johnson, whose mother is Elwanda Coston, assistant professor of mathematics at Bainbridge State, recently spoke to several classes at the College and her visit was sponsored by the Honors Program. She talked about the personal side of the President and his family: Yes, the first family’s dogs really do have the run of the White House, Obama is the most technically savvy president the country has had, and he is very much a strategic-thoughtful leader who cares about those he serves.

Dr. Johnson also told the students of how she got the job in the Executive Office of the President. She was vice president of information technology when she applied for the White House position. She had no idea she would be called to serve the President, and it was a year and a half after Obama was first inaugurated that she was hired.

She provides vision, guidance and leadership for the development and implementation of information technology initiatives at the Executive Office of the President. Dr. Johnson also ensures all the communication devices and the White House’s website are functioning properly.

She says her job is really a passion – that among her missions is helping the American citizens.

“You can’t put a price tag on working for the President,” said Dr. Johnson, who also worked for the National Security Agency. “My job is not difficult, but it is difficult because you are working for the most important person in the world.”

She said her stress levels spike during the 12 hours surrounding the U.S. Constitutionally mandated State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress. During the President’s speech, the White House posts lots of video, pop-up data and other information on the White House’s website that is tied to the speech.

She also encouraged the students to set goals and act beyond them, because you never know what can happen as she cited her applying for the White House position and receiving it.

Dr. Johnson holds a Ph.D. in information technology management; a master’s in telecommunications and computer networks, and a bachelor’s in mathematics. She has been listed as one of Washington, D.C.’s 2014 Top 50 Women in Technology on Fedscoop, a government IT news collaboration site. She has most recently won the 2014 Federal Computer Weekly Fed100 Award highlighting the top 100 Federal IT leaders and the 2013 FedScoop50 Federal Leadership Award.

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