Former Mayor William A. Johnson Named ABC Signature Citizen of the Year

Award recognizes service to community, professional work and volunteerism

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Action for a Better Community

Action for a Better Community awarded William A. Johnson Jr., center, former mayor and current RIT professor of public policy, with the Signature Citizen of the Year medallion for his longstanding work dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Rochester community. He was recognized at a ceremony in November by James Norman, right, president of Action for a Better Community, and Jerome Underwood, the organization’s chairman of the board of directors. Credit: Action for a Better Community

For nearly 12 years, William A. Johnson Jr. served as Rochester’s mayor. In 1999, he was recognized as one of the Top 10 Public Officials in America, and he served as a community advocate while president of the Urban League 1972-1993.

For his work on behalf of the Rochester community, Johnson, currently the Distinguished Professor of Public Policy in the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology, was named the Action for a Better Community Signature Citizen of the Year. The award was given at the Action for a Better Community Annual Luncheon and fundraiser in November. The organization celebrated 45 years of service to Rochester.

The award is given to members of the community who have made an enduring contribution to providing opportunities for low-income citizens in Rochester. Johnson developed community programs such as the Salute to Black Scholars and the Urban League of Rochester Affordable Housing Program that are still in effect today.

“I feel so honored with this award. I’ve lived in Rochester for 30 years and I have had a positive, powerful relationship with Action for a Better Community,” Johnson said to the more than 400 guests attending the event. “I count James Norman as one of my most valued colleagues. There are numerous people in the room today I consider good friends, each very important to me, people I have worked with at the Urban League, at the city, people I now work with at RIT, people who were on the front lines.”

“Bill Johnson has given many things to this community and has represented Rochester well,” said James Norman, president and chief executive officer of Action for a Better Community.

Norman added that Johnson serves as trustee for the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, chairs the Howard Wilson Coles Society of the United Way of Greater Rochester and is on the board of Lifetime Care of Rochester. He is a mentor for the Judicial Process Commission’s Faith Community Adult Mentoring Project and completed a two-year term on the SAGE commission, examining long-term care needs of senior citizens in the greater Rochester area.