Getting to Know…. Michelle Johnson


Name: Michelle Johnson

Title: Senior Residential Manager- Millburn, Woodland and West Orange Group Homes

How long have you been with JSDD? Friday November 25th marks two years

Was this the position you started in? Started as a group home manager

What is your first memory of JSDD? My first memory was receiving a phone call from Shila, my assistant, before I even started welcoming me to the Millburn home. Also, when I started going through the in-house training with Jen and Letticia I was in awe of how organized everything was from the medical to all aspects of homes.

What has most surprised you about working with JSDD? How organized and supportive the team was here. Coming from other agencies, you don’t see that at all. How effective the care is and the general support that the staff and residents get

What are 3 words to describe JSDD? Organized, Supportive and Effective

What do you find most challenging? Leaving work at work. I take my job home with me because the residents are like my family, I worry about them when I am home. My residents call me to chat, and I am always thinking about new ideas or activities for them and how to make sure each and every resident is getting the best, living up to their potential and living the best life they can.

What do you wish other people knew about JSDD? We have and Executive Director that does not just sit high and look low. Linda supports every person in the Organization. It is with her great leadership that promotes great leaders and directors who are all supportive. It makes JSDD a great workplace.

When your friends/family find out that you work for JSDD what do they say or ask? What do you do all day? When I tell them they say that I have always advocated for people. You are so patient. They know I will always take a call from my residents

Tell me about someone who has influenced you while working with JSDD? It cannot be just one. There are so many people that have influenced me at JSDD.

  • Letticia, Director of Residential Services, is my mentor (even if she doesn’t know it!). She teaches me to be calm and handle many tough situations without realizing she is teaching me. Everything she does is graceful, and she is so patient.
  • Jennifer, Director of Nursing, has taught me so much about anything medical related to the residents. She almost makes me want to become a nurse. She is supportive and willing to give guidance. She takes the time to makes sure I understand.
  • Kristia is a beautiful soul always willing to talk and listen, her door is always open and she always gives helpful feedback.
  • Randee, the Assoc. Director of QA (she might not even remember this) – during my first performance review she said, “I see a promotion in Michelle’s future.” It let me know someone saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. She really inspired me.
  • I must also include Shila, the Assistant Manager at Millburn. She believes in me and pushes me and encourages me to do things that I don’t think I can do.

What part of your job are you most excited about? Spending time with my guys, the residents, individually, giving them one on one attention and time together as a family promoting social skills. I get excited about their achievements and when they meet their goals. I am excited about developing a JSDD bowling league and a prom for the residents. I get excited when they call my name when I walk in the door and knowing that I make a difference in their lives

What is on your wish list for the next 5 years with JSDD? I would love to see JSDD expand to other counties. It is a dream for me that JSDD would be able to still serve individuals as they age or require more medical attention. Rather than going into a medical home, I would love to see them be able to stay in their current home so that can get the same support and love. I would welcome becoming more active in the community like the breast cancer walk that we participated in this year.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about working for JSDD? I would say if you want to be in a place that sets you up for success, a place that supports you and promotes from within and you want to make a difference in someone’s life, then you want to work for JSDD. I left teaching of 27 years, and it was the best decision I made, I miss the kids, but I love it here.

Before working at JSDD what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? Working as a teacher for 27 years. Was interesting because children are like sponges, they absorb everything. You don’t just teach; you learn from the children. Working in school system is like working with my guys. I learn so much from them.

What is your favorite thing for Lunch? Pizza from Big Joes

What is something about you that is not on your resume? I have a catering and cake business. Michelle’s Tasty Treats! It started with my sister-in-law asking me to make a cake. I didn’t think I could do it and I made it work. Later, she had me do another one to have people try and it grew from there. I create perfectly homemade cakes. During the pandemic I was teaching from home, so I was able to bake a bit more and did giveaways and asked for reviews. My page got so much attention. Then, I started cooking and selling dinners and people started asking me to caterer holiday menus. I make a lot of the food for my guys. They love it.