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In celebration of Women’s History Month, North Gwinnett Voice staff member Denise Rumbaugh reached out to women whose accomplishments have been influential and impactful in several areas, including education, politics, media and business. She asked each woman about other women throughout history they admire, the most influential women in their own lives, advice they would share with women and girls on achieving their own goals and dreams and the importance of celebrating women’s history. The NGV has compiled their responses in celebration of Women’s History Month and in honor of these incredible women leaving their marks.

Tarece Johnson is the first black/Jewish chairwoman of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Board of Education. 

Denise Rumbaugh: Is there any particular woman or are there women in history you admire? What do you admire about her or them? 

Tarece Johnson: 

  • Maya Angelou — Author, poet, dancer, and inspirational intellectual
  • Billie Holiday — Inspiring vocal jazz singer who was unapologetic about being who she was and using her art to impact change
  • Nina Simone — Courageous voice about using her art to advance social justice consciousness

DR: Who has been the most influential woman in your life and why? 

TJ: Maya Angelou is no longer on this earth, but her life and art influence me in many ways.  Her legacy lives on through me. My daughter is also influential in my life because I have witnessed her overcome and evolve to be a teenager who is kind, brilliant, brave, and beautiful. I respect her voice and value her perspective. I also learn from her and appreciate our debates. My daughter is intellectual, creative, global-minded, and multitalented. I listen to her as well as lead and I am grateful for every moment with her. 

DR: What advice would you share with women and girls on working to achieve their goals and dreams?

TJ: My advice to girls and women is to know where you come from, embrace your heritage, know your history, and love who you are. Be resilient and persevere to achieve success. Know that learning is a continuous process and you will evolve to be extra- ordinary. Hold fast to your dreams and always be and do your very best. Do not allow anyone to define who you are. Don’t be put into a box, or worry about meeting the expectations of others, be free to be your authentic self and be unapologetic about what you need for your mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. 

DR: What do you think is the importance of celebrating women’s history? 

TJ: The importance of celebrating women’s history is to honor the contributions, demonstrate continued value, and celebrate the humanity of all women. As an educator, it is important to teach about women in history and uplift girls as they pursue their dreams. 

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