Donnie Johnson '00 pulls no punches about his Davidson experience... or anything else in his life. He's a no nonsense kind of guy who communicates his reasons for volunteering in the most straight-forward of ways.
"I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who wasn't helped by someone at some point in their life," he said. "The idea is to move society forward. So, you can sit around and get what you can get out of others, or you can help people really maximize their potential."
Donnie was a first-generation college student who knows he was given some pretty unique opportunities through relationships with volunteers and mentors. He credits his mentor, Xavier Richardson, with getting him to college in the first place. Richardson runs the Partnership for Academic Excellence in Fredericksburg, Va., which mentors teens and helps prepare them for college.
"They can be smart, but there are still things students don't know about how to actually get into college if they don't know where to look," he said. "I feel compelled to do whatever I can to give young people tools they can use to succeed. Everyone needs a mentor to get from point A to point B; I don't care who you are."
And Donnie practices what he preaches. At Davidson, he co-founded the Emerging Professionals Group, a group which mentors students on ways to prepare themselves for after college.
"That's where I can add the most value as a volunteer," he said. "My best fit is exposing students to industries, ideas and people that they didn't even know they could be interested in. I'm also trying to help them prepare for life outside of Davidson, so I encourage them to experience things like studying abroad, where they can grow and mature as a person."
Donnie has shaped his volunteer experience so it aligns with things that matter to him.
"My hope is that more people with ideas on how to help will work to move those initiatives forward themselves and not wait until they're asked," he said. "Students often don't even realize alumni want to help, so it's up to us to reach out and start the conversation."
In addition to his mentorship role, Donnie is an active member of the college's Board of Trustees, the Board of Visitors and the Davidson Athletic Fund Board, among other groups. He is a director with Wells Fargo & Company and is married to Carin Ross Johnson. The couple resides in Charlotte.