Meet the first lady of YSU

Bill and LeeAnn Johnson. Photo courtesy of

By Madeline Hippeard / The Jambar

The Jambar met with Youngstown State University’s first lady LeeAnn Johnson to learn about her and what she has planned for the university.

Before becoming the first lady of Youngstown State, LeeAnn worked as a dental hygienist for 30 years.

During that time, LeeAnn said she was active in the Youngstown community through memberships in different philanthropic groups, such as the Poland Junior Women’s Club and the Canfield Welcome Wagon.

Now serving YSU’s community as first lady, LeeAnn said it’s important she interacts and builds relationships with the university’s students.

“I have been volunteering at different capacities for a long time, but this opportunity to be around the students and pour into their lives is so exciting to me,” LeeAnn said.

For LeeAnn, the first weeks at Youngstown State were more busy for her husband, President Bill Johnson, but now that she has settled in, things have begun to pick up.

LeeAnn has been meeting with academic departments and programs to learn more about what they offer and how she can be involved with each one. Although she doesn’t have specific plans to work with YSU’s dental hygiene program, LeeAnn said it offers great healthcare resources for students.

“It’s an amazing clinic,” LeeAnn said. “It’s pro bono, you don’t have to pay for the services. I would encourage everyone to go visit the Youngstown State dental hygiene program.”

LeeAnn said she still works “here and there” as a hygienist and her favorite part is one-on-one time with patients.

Despite transitioning from a dentist’s office to a university, LeeAnn said she continues her job of listening to and meeting others’ needs

“There’s a unique similarity to healthcare and being here on campus. Caring for everybody and having that chance to just love on all the students is important to me,” LeeAnn said.

According to LeeAnn, helping students maintain positive mental health is a concern of hers.

“I believe all of us should have a check-up from the neck up,” LeeAnn said. “Our students can struggle — it’s tough. College is tough. This period in life is challenging and sometimes we just need to sit down and listen.”

LeeAnn said it’s important to have discussions about mental health at YSU and make sure every student knows how to access mental health resources on campus.

Throughout her time at YSU, LeeAnn said she’ll offer students an open door for discussions, regardless of the topic.

“It’s important that I feel relatable to students and that students feel they can come talk to me or President Johnson at any time. His door is always open, but I have the same policy,” LeeAnn said.

LeeAnn said she hopes students will share their experiences and ideas to continue bettering YSU.