Sheila Johnson, CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts
Sheila C. Johnson is an entrepreneur and philanthropist whose accomplishments span the arenas of hospitality, sports, TV/film, the arts, education, women’s empowerment and community development.
As Founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Ms. Johnson oversees a growing portfolio of luxury properties. The equestrian-inspired Salamander Resort & Spa opened in 2013 and has since been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the Top 10 Resorts in the South and by Travel + Leisure as one of the World’s Greatest Hotels. The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, is currently under development in Destin, Florida, and is due to open in late 2016.
As Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Ms. Johnson is the only African-American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams: the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, for which she serves as President and Managing Partner. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the United States Golf Association.
Ms. Johnson is a partner in ProJet Aviation, a comprehensive aviation service company specializing in aviation consulting, aircraft acquisitions, management, and charter services. She is also a partner in Mistral, the makers of fine bath, body, and home products; and in November 2012 launched her own collection of luxury scarves, inspired by her travels around the world and manufactured in Italy. In 2013, in recognition of her entrepreneurial success, she was invited to serve as a judge for Ernst & Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year Award—the only judge on the international panel to represent the United States.
Ms. Johnson has long been a powerful influence in the entertainment industry, starting with her work as founding partner of Black Entertainment Television. She has served as executive producer of four documentary films, including Kicking It, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; A Powerful Noise, which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival; She Is the Matador; and The Other City, a critically acclaimed portrayal of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Washington DC, which premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. She also helped finance the Screen Actors Guild nominated feature film The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels and distributed by Harvey Weinstein.
A fervent supporter of education and the arts, she serves on the Board of Governors of Parsons the New School for Design in New York, and is a member of the Leadership Council at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership (CPL). She is also a board member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, as well as founder and chair of the Middleburg Film Festival, a celebration of independent film that opened to sell-out crowds in October 2013.
From 2006 to 2009, Ms. Johnson served as global ambassador for CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that combats global poverty by empowering women. She also served as a member of Accordia Global Health Foundation’s International Council, rallying support for the foundation’s efforts to overcome the burden of infectious diseases in Africa. In recognition of her humanitarian efforts, she was honored with the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal in 2012.
An accomplished violinist, Ms. Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Illinois, as well as honorary degrees from numerous other institutions. She lives in Middleburg, VA, is married to the Honorable William T. Newman, Jr., and has two children.