Hi, I'm Johnny!

Founder and Director of The ShineHard Family

I grew up as an only child raised by my grandparents. I spent most of my childhood in Petersburg, Virginia, probably what most would call humble beginnings. When I was fourteen, I lost my mom to mental illness as my dad did his best to offer me guidance from afar. I didn’t really have an exact blueprint on how to succeed as a black boy in America, but I never once thought that it wasn’t possible for me. During my teenage years, I often found myself thrust into leadership positions on my sports teams or just as a common connector amongst various friends.

My freshman year at Hampton University was a culture shock for me. I became inspired by black excellence. For the first time, I could literally see how unprepared I was for the world, or maybe it was simply how advanced many of my classmates already were. My peers had blueprints, mentors and organizations that were guiding them on a prosperous track. I sometimes pondered how my life may have been had I been exposed to those same resources. I also became more educated on Black History — soon realizing how oblivious I had been to the issues surrounding my own community.

It was nearly 6 years later when I bundled my personal life experiences, my day-job discontent, and my burning desire to serve a greater purpose; I decided, “I’m going to create something that empowers the people who look like me. A platform for people who may have been oblivious to certain resources but equally as hungry to achieve success. I’m going to be who I needed when I was younger.” 

In 2014, I took my first step toward activism. I launched an interview series to shine a light on millennial leaders whom I felt exemplified Black Excellence. This interview series went on to be called, The ShineHard Conversation. I asked questions that revealed a blueprint and a mindset. I wanted the reader to feel, “if they can do it, I can do it too.”