Meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.

CJ Johnson | Team Leader Spotlight

Team Leader, New York Cares

"CJ is a stellar Photography Explorers Team Leader who has been creating and implementing innovative lesson plans in her middle school program at Incarnation School for the last three years. Her students return year after year and it's absolutely because of her creativity and ability to tie in material with student interests."

-Samantha Newman, New York Cares Program Officer

All it takes is one glance through CJ’s project evaluations and you’ll see why she made it as this month’s Team Leader Spotlight. But don’t take our word for it. Hear what her volunteers are saying about their “kodak moments” from Photography Explorers.

"I loved it. CJ Johnson was outstanding. She really gave of herself in teaching the students and creating interesting and exciting projects every week. The students loved it as well and the last day there was a photo exhibit of their work - which was wonderful. As someone who is into photography I found this program very satisfying on a creative level and also in what I was able to give to the students. If they do this again in the new school year in September I would definitely want to get involved again - especially if CJ is the teacher."

"CJ Johnson is terrific. She goes above and beyond to make each class interesting and really challenges the students...and they love the class. I’ve done this two years in a row with CJ and if it happens again for the next school year I will definitely do it again. Great project.”

Not only does CJ receive feedback, but she regularly evaluates her own projects – adding notable details from each session which helps keep a constant feedback loop with New York Cares. This is also where she gives a shout out to all-star volunteers from her projects to ensure great leadership is recognized.

So why does CJ do what she does? We asked her.

 I am inspired to create a little happiness and new experiences for some who otherwise might not have much exposure to or opportunity to be involved in the arts.”

And she has succeeded. It all started back in 2011 at Art Explorers at HELP Harbo, her first project serving as a Team Leader. It’s here where she helped children at an after-school program discover their inner artists. In 2013, she moved onto Photography Explorers at Incarnation School, where she’s been bringing photography to life for three years and counting.

Speaking of Photography Explorers, one of our favorite memories illustrating CJ's creativity was in a session on UFOs where students created "ships" out of objects like paper plates, plastic cups and dome lids, craft gems, etc. The students threw the UFOs in the air and took pictures as they fell. To demonstrate how quickly fake news travels, CJ had the class submit their "UFO sightings" to sightings websites, one of which accepted an image as real and posted it online.

When it comes down to it, CJ demonstrates the kind of leadership that inspires the people around her and keeps them coming back – both volunteers and students. Thank you, CJ, for your dedication and commitment to the New York Cares mission!

  • Volunteer since: 2010
  • Team Leader since: 2011
  • Hours Spent Volunteering: 214
  • Describe in one word what being a Team Leader means to you: Facilitator.
What’s one thing that you never leave the house without before team leading?

A positive attitude and a backup lesson plan.

Share a favorite memory from a project.

My favorite memories involve having the students construct something. For instance my first year at Incarnation we built Pinhole cameras. In our second year, I had them construct spaceships so we could create fake U.F.O. photos.

What is your favorite thing to do in New York?

Attend an off-off Broadway show or a few hours at the MET Museum.

Interested in nominating a great leader like CJ to be featured in a future Team Leader Spotlight? Submit your nomination here.