Sheila C. Johnson is a successful entrepreneur and impassioned philanthropist.
As CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality company she founded in 2005, Ms. Johnson oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properties, including three Florida golf and family resorts reaching from the Gulf to the Atlantic – Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, Reunion Resort in Orlando, and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. Ms. Johnson’s equestrian-inspired and luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa made its much anticipated debut in August 2013. Located in Middleburg, Virginia, in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country, this flagship resort was recognized by USA Today as among the world’s top eight hotel openings of 2013.
Ms. Johnson is Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and President and Managing Partner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. She is the only African-American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the United States Golf Association.
Ms. Johnson is a partner in ProJet Aviation, a comprehensive aviation service company specializing in aviation consulting, aircraft acquisitions, management, and charter services. She is also a partner in Mistral, the makers of fine bath, body, and home products; and in November 2012 launched her own collection of luxury scarves, inspired by her travels around the world and manufactured in Italy. In 2013, in recognition of her entrepreneurial success, she was invited to serve as a judge for Ernst & Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year Award—the only judge on the international panel to represent the United States.
Ms. Johnson has long been a powerful influence in the entertainment industry, starting with her work as founding partner of Black Entertainment Television. She has served as executive producer of four documentary films, including Kicking It, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; A Powerful Noise, which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival; She Is the Matador; and The Other City, a critically acclaimed portrayal of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Washington DC, which premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. She also helped finance the Screen Actors Guild nominated feature film The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels and distributed by Harvey Weinstein.
A fervent supporter of education and the arts, she serves on the Board of Governors of Parsons The New School for Design in New York, and is a member of the Leadership Council at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership (CPL). She is also a board member of the Sundance Institute and the ANNIKA Foundation, as well as founder and chair of the Middleburg Film Festival, a celebration of independent film that opened to sell-out crowds in October 2013.
In 2006, Ms. Johnson was named global ambassador for CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that combats global poverty by empowering women. Since 2011, she has served as a member of Accordia Global Health Foundation’s International Council, rallying support for the foundation’s efforts to overcome the burden of infectious diseases in Africa.
An accomplished violinist, Ms. Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Illinois, as well as honorary degrees from numerous other institutions. She lives in Middleburg, VA, is married to the Honorable William T. Newman, Jr., and has two children.