2018 Tillman Scholar

Laura Johnson

Air Force
University of West Florida

“Let;s create a world where kids can become the best version of themselves…and be the example for kids to become good citizens for America through care and compassion.”

Laura enlisted in the Air Force out of Los Angeles, determined to have a better life and future. She became a security police officer and served the first four years of her twenty years in the UK and in Texas before earning an ROTC scholarship and entering the Intelligence career field. After transitioning into the Intelligence field, Laura merged her Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection background with two decades of deployments around the world and joint assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, England, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

Motivated by the role of education in building stable societies through employment and empowerment, Laura participated in many interagency endeavors to counter violence, poverty, and terrorism. She deployed in support of stability operations by bolstering educational endeavors in austere environments, working in Africa and the Middle East. In Central Asia she helped build curriculum in the early years of the National Military Academy of Afghanistan in Kabul. She also taught at the Air Force Special Operations School and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After retirement, Laura turned her attention to struggling communities in Northwest Florida. She earned a K-6 grade teaching certificate and began an Ed.D. program in curriculum and assessment programs. She now works with nonprofit organizations committed to improving the quality of life for citizens, especially children in at-risk environments. She is a proponent of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model. Her dissertation covers Community Partnership Schools.