Oklahoma Bar Journal

From the Executive Director | Humbled, Grateful and Ready to Lead

By Janet Johnson

“When it comes to careers, instead of searching for the job where we’ll be happiest, we might be better off pursuing the job where we expect to learn and contribute the most.” – Adam Grant


I remain somewhat shocked to begin this new year as your new executive director. Certainly, the last few weeks of the year at the Oklahoma Bar Association are always a whirlwind of CLE offerings, collecting membership dues, holding the Annual Meeting and welcoming newly elected leaders to our Board of Governors. Of course, this year, we also said goodbye to our outgoing executive director, John Morris Williams, and thanked him for his many years of service.

With so much to do, there has not been much time for quiet reflection. There has not been a moment to do much beyond joke about what the search committee must have been thinking to offer me the position! If you had told a much younger Janet that one day, she would be a lawyer, I am not sure she would have taken you seriously. Fast forward to the present, and I am still in shock that my career in law brings me to this moment to serve the members of this association. So I will say thank you to the Board of Governors and Search Committee for placing their trust in me.

I am humbled, grateful and ready. I will have much to learn about this particular leadership role in the coming year, but I bring with me passion, insight and a willingness to jump in and contribute. With our association leadership’s guidance and counsel, the experience of our staff and input from members, we have an opportunity to strengthen our organization and our profession together.

We all drink from wells we did not dig. As a country girl, I know the toil of well digging and fence mending. Those skills build a selfless work ethic that carries over to all manner of professions, even the law. We protect and fight for the wells of justice and truth, mending fences along the way.

From the moment any of us decided on a career in law, we learned from all those who came before us. We sat at the feet of our law professors and studied our law books. We sought advice from other lawyers and judges. We didn’t know if we could do it, even after we passed the bar exam, until that first client came to us or we stepped in front of a judge for the first time. But we did it! Two of the greatest skills we must hone as counselors are listening and communicating. And listening and communicating some more with those who went before us and those coming behind.

I pledge to hear you and share information with you. We face many challenges in our profession: burnout is real, dockets are full, stress is high, income is sometimes hard-fought. Balance is a fallacy. But we persist. The OBA has many tools to help us.

The Adam Grant quote rings true for me. “When it comes to careers, instead of searching for the job where we’ll be happiest, we might be better off pursuing the job where we expect to learn and contribute the most.” That has been my path in each career step, and I intend to learn and contribute and be happy in that pursuit.

Happy New Year.

Executive Director Q & A

Background: I am a native of Duncan, living now in Oklahoma City. Most of my family is in Oklahoma, but I have some in Texas and Ohio. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling, reading and spending time with loved ones.

Education: I earned a bachelor’s degree in letters from OU in 2006 and a J.D. from the OCU School of Law in 2010.

What is your most important goal as you begin your new role as executive director? My first goal is to work on engagement and gaining feedback from incoming and existing members early and often. Starting at the law school level and increasing membership involvement going forward.

Why is it important for OBA members to serve and volunteer? Being engaged and seeing the value of this membership is amazing. There are few things more rewarding than having the ability to give back and help those around you succeed.

What challenges are OBA members encountering, and how can the OBA help find solutions? Increasing awareness about the member benefits the OBA has to offer is something that needs to be shouted from the mountaintop. From our six hours of counseling to case management and other tips and tricks from our Management Assistance Program, the benefits are extraordinary and need to be communicated early and often.

What’s your favorite OBA member benefit? I might be biased, but the quantity and quality of OBA CLE programming are unmatched. Our members contribute so often and with quality content; each section and committee brings something to the membership table for all.

What technology gadget could you not function without? Can I pick two? I would be lost without my phone and Apple Watch.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year? I am really into fantasy books. I will go with the safest answer here – give the A Court of Thorns and Roses series a go, and then get back with me for books to add to your to-be-read list!


To contact Executive Director Johnson, email her at janetj@okbar.org.


Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 1 (January 2023)