After 30 years of community service, Johnny Howard is a well-known figure both in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul where he lives and throughout the metropolitan area.
Getting Started: Johnny got his start as a community activist in the early 1980s. Disturbed by declining housing, drug dealing and prostitution in his Frogtown neighborhood, he formed the Thomas Dale Block Club. It became a 600-member organization of committed neighbors who developed grass roots strategies to make their neighborhood a cleaner and safer place to live.
For almost two decades, Johnny developed and led the Frogtown Youth Football Program that put 160 kids on the field each season. Under Johnny’s leadership, the program was about much more than playing football. He developed a model of strong and sympathetic male leadership for kids who too-often lacked for a positive role model.
Catalyst: As a leader in the community, Johnny has been a catalyst in programs such as the St. Paul John School, formed with the group Breaking Free, in which prostitutes’ customers are educated in the harm they do to women and neighborhoods. He’s lobbied successfully for stronger laws to put a lid on problem properties. He’s developed and run a non-profit landscaping business that put jobless neighborhood residents to work beautifying the neighborhood.
Awards: For his achievements in community development and organizing, Johnny has received numerous awards, such as the St. Paul Companies Leadership Award, the Urban League Man of the Year Award, and the William H. Spurgeon Award.
Family: Johnny lives with his wife, Diane, and their son, Jeffrey. He is a member of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and serves on the usher board.
Over the past three decades, Johnny has proven that he is a leader who knows how to listen. He has a record of working respectfully with people of all races and ethnicities. He’s advocated successfully for seniors, for youth programs, for homeowners and for tenants. He’s made partnerships with police to improve the safety of neighborhood residents.
He knows how government works, knows how to engage neighbors, and knows how to get things done.