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, California – determined to change her environment and create a life of excitement and adventure – and never look back. She became a security police officer and served the first four years of her military career in England and in Texas before earning an ROTC “Bootstrap” Scholarship and entering the Military Intelligence career field. After transitioning into the Intelligence field, Laura completed assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, England, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel over the next sixteen years.

Motivated by the role schools play in building stable societies through education, employment and empowerment platforms, Laura participated in many interagency endeavors to counter violent extremism, address root causes of poverty, and build resilient communities. Many of these endeavors took place in austere environments, supporting missions 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.

After retirement Laura worked in the Pentagon for several years and completed her dissertation on the Community Partnership School Model in December 2020. She currently works at the Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.