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VIProfile: Bobbie Johnson

Bobbie Johnson has been involved in the Murfreesboro community for many years. She is currently the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for RUTHERFORD Cable, serving on the Board of Trustees for Oaklands Mansion and a 17-year member of the Murfreesboro Kiwanis Club where she was the first female African-American Kiwanis Club President.

A Financial Specialist at Pinnacle Financial Partners, she has 27 years in the banking industry. She came into the banking industry after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). She has worked in every part of banking except loans.

Johnson came to Murfreesboro from Centerville, Tennessee, in Hickman County, the home of Grand Ole Opry legend Minnie Pearl. While that is where she was born and raised, Murfreesboro has been her home since graduating from MTSU in 1984. And, she loves giving back to the community that she calls home.

Not one to sit back and just be a member of any organization she joins, Johnson has won a number of awards for her hard work for others. From being a 2015 Daily News Journal Volunteer of the Week to a 2020 ATHENA Award nominee, her accomplishments are many. Often she has led the charge, as she currently is as the president of the Persons of Color Advisory Board at Oaklands Mansion and as she did as the first female African-American Kiwanis Club President.

Being the first can often be an eye opener, and it certainly was for Johnson. “When I went to the Kiwanis convention [as Murfreesboro Kiwanis Club president], the older white men were not sure about me being president. I was asked why I was president.

First, they asked me if there were any men in the club, to which I answered ‘yes’, then they asked me if there were any other women, to which I also answered ‘yes’. I couldn’t believe that they were questioning me as club president because of my color. But I held my head high and carried on.”

This experience, which occurred only a few years ago, has led her to work toward better understanding of diversity and inclusion. For RUTHERFORD Cable, which she joined 11 years ago to help her business, she takes the job of Director of Diversity and Inclusion to heart.

“Diversity and inclusion makes CABLE stronger,” Johnson said. “We do not want anyone to feel left out. The more inclusive, the stronger a business or an organization can become.”

Now in her second year in the position, she has seen diversity and inclusion have a positive effect on the organization, as she has seen the organization have a strong positive affect on her business. From the beginning, she saw the potential of CABLE, but she had no idea how much it would increase her business and her connections in the community.

One of her newer connections is as a member of the Oaklands Mansion Board of Trustees. She has recently joined the board and serves as the president of the organization’s first Persons of Color Advisory Committee.

“Everyone knows Oaklands,” said Johnson, “but in recent years it has had a negative image. We want to give it a new image. Add more education. Take away some of the old stereotypes from it. Make it more inclusive by telling the whole story.”

As an example of what she means, Johnson talked of the image of happy slaves that has long been propagated there. She noted that they never knew anything else, but that didn’t mean they were happy being slaves. To share more of the true history, Oaklands has placed “Untold Story of the Maney Family Slaves” on their website. But Johnson says there is much more work to be done.

“We are trying to come up with ways to retell the stories of African Americans and Oaklands Mansion,” noted Johnson. “And we want to get rid of the Nathan Bedford Forrest sign, or reword it. We also hope to bring in church choirs to sing on the grounds,which will in turn bring in the children’s parents. We want to bring more diversity to those who visit the museum and use its facilities.”

While Johnson works hard for diversity and inclusion, she is also very interested in children. That is part of the reason why she joined Kiwanis. Kiwanis is a global volunteer organization dedicated to making life better for children. They teach kids about giving back to the community through their high school Key Clubs, which they have in every high school in Rutherford County. Johnson is a sponsor of the Key Club at Riverdale High School.

“We also help kids in other ways,” explained Johnson, “like helping with field trip expenses, to make sure that all children can go. When a family can’t cover field trip expenses, we step in.”

Working with Candle Wishes is yet another way the club and Johnson, help kids. She loves to be a part of the big end of the year birthday party that Murfreesboro Kiwanis Club sponsors. The event serves over 100 children, insuring that they have a happy birthday.

And the club devotes time to older veterans by running bingo at the VA hospital once a month. For years, Johnson has made it a point to make sure that all of the equipment gets to and from the facility.

“We work with other organizations to help with what they need,” said Johnson. Her enthusiasm and dedication is contagious. She is sure to continue to impact the community through her efforts to help kids, insure all the stories are told and all people are accepted for who they are and what they have to offer.

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