Advocacy in Action: Meet the KFW Board – Shayla Johnson

Ellen Birkett Morris has been interviewing KFW Board members and will profile a different Board member each month.


Photo credit: Brian Judd

Serving Her Community—Empowering Women

Shayla Johnson was introduced to the Kentucky Foundation for Women by a friend and prior board member, who felt that she would make a great fit for the board.  When she looked into KFW, Shayla “fell in love” with its purpose and mission.

She was introduced to feminism by her mother at a young age.  “I was so young, I didn’t know the word “feminism.” I just knew that one of my mother’s expectations for me was to live a life of empowerment–empowerment of self and all women.  She taught me that my voice was valuable and I should never seal my lips to please others.  I stand strong because I’m standing on her shoulders,” said Shayla.

As the Assistant Director of the Lexington Fair Housing Council in Lexington, Shayla assists victims of housing discrimination, analyzes Fair Housing related issues, and initiates complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or litigation when appropriate.  She is active in various non-profit and community service organizations around the state. Shayla tutors and mentors young girls in the Lexington community and also teaches them about the beauty of dance as an art form with the goal of shaping and preparing young women for their future.

Shayla is a creative problem solver and views creativity as a centerpiece of her life. Helping support the creativity of others is an important part of her work as a KFW board member.

“I see my role on the board as a connector.  I want to connect KFW to populations whom have never heard of our phenomenal Foundation so that our reach can be long-lasting throughout the state,” said Shayla.

She recently graduated from the Emerge Kentucky program, which trains women to run for public office. “One of my goals is to better the lives of women and girls in Kentucky and to do so by holding public office. My hopes are that we can obtain equality in all aspects of our lives while feeling safe to express ourselves as individuals.”

A lover of the written word, Shayla vividly remembers a poem once learned years ago that still impacts her life today. “My sixth grade language arts teach made us memorize and recite this poem.  I still remember it very clearly. I didn’t realize its significance until I was much older.”
“Myself” by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know that
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and so,
whatever happens I want to be
self-respecting and conscience free.