Sheila C. Johnson is an entrepreneur and philanthropist whose accomplishments span the arenas of hospitality, sports, TV/film, the arts, education, women’s empowerment and community development.
In 2005 she founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts and now oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properties. Grand Golf Resorts of Florida features three golf and family resorts reaching from the Gulf to the Atlantic: Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, Reunion Resort in Orlando and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. The luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa opened Aug. 29, 2013, in Middleburg, Va., in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country. The latest project, The Henderson, a Salamander Beach Resort will open June 2017.
As vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and president and managing partner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, Ms. Johnson is the first African-American woman to have a stake in four professional sports teams, including the Washington Wizards (NBA), the Washington Capitals (NHL) and the Washington Valor (AFL).
As a founding partner of BET (Black Entertainment Television), she pioneered modern television programming and created the award-winning program Teen Summit, an issues-oriented talk show for the network’s youth viewers. Currently Ms. Johnson produces films that convey a strong humanitarian message, with completed projects including Kicking It, A Powerful Noise, She Is the Matador and The Other City, a critically acclaimed documentary about the HIV/AIDS crisis in Washington, D.C. Her latest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, was distributed by Harvey Weinstein and was nominated for several Screen Actor Guild awards.
Ms. Johnson serves on the Board of Governors for Parsons School for Design in New York, as well as on the boards of Harvard Kennedy School Board Center for Public Leadership and the Executive Committee of the USGA. In 2006 Ms. Johnson was named global ambassador for CARE, a leading aid organization that fights global poverty by empowering women.
An accomplished violinist, Ms. Johnson earned a bachelor of arts in music from the University of Illinois, as well as honorary degrees from numerous other institutions. A mother of two, she lives in Middleburg, Va., with her husband, the Honorable William T. Newman Jr.