Tom Johnson, of Atlanta, Georgia, has been a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV) since 2007. He has served as chair of the Public Affairs Committee for more than 10 years.
Tom began his career as an intern at his hometown newspaper, The Macon (Georgia) Telegraph. He later served as a White House Fellow, deputy White House press secretary and executive assistant to former President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1971, he was named executive vice president of the Texas Broadcasting Company. He became editor of the Dallas Times Herald in 1973 and was promoted two years later to publisher and chief executive officer. In 1977, he was named president of the Los Angeles Times, rising to the position of publisher in 1980. Tom became president of Cable News Network (CNN) in 1990 and later served as chairman and chief executive officer of CNN News Group. In 1999, he received the Paul White Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. Tom retired in 2001.
He and his wife, Edwina, are longtime ambassadors of MD Anderson and have actively raised funds for key cancer research and patient programs. They have lent significant support for MD Anderson’s signature fundraising event, A Conversation With a Living Legend®, co-chairing the 2010 event in Atlanta and the 2013 and 2015 events in Washington, D.C. In addition, Tom has interviewed multiple Living Legend honorees over the years, including former President George W. Bush (San Antonio, 2012; Dallas, 2013), Vicente Fox (San Antonio, 2010), Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson (San Antonio, 2011), Mack Brown and R.C. Slocum (San Antonio, 2014), former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice (San Antonio, 2016) and former Sec. of State James A. Baker, III (San Antonio, 2018).
This year Tom and Edwina, who have two grown children and two granddaughters, celebrate 56 years of marriage.
- Macon public schools
- Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the University of Georgia, Bachelor of Arts
- Harvard Business School, Master of Business Administration
Current Board of Visitors Service:
- Executive Committee
- Officers Committee
- Public Affairs Committee, chair
What three words best describe you?
Driven. Honest. Integrity.
What’s most important in life?
My family: wife Edwina, daughter Christa and son-in-law Bill Shaffer, son Wyatt Johnson and granddaughters Brynn, 19, and Julene, 17.
How do you like to spend your free time?
With my two granddaughters. There is something about grandparenting that only grandparents can understand.
When and why did you join the BOV?
Wayne Gibbens, one of my very best friends, urged me, encouraged me, threatened me, influenced me, lobbied me and charmed even my wife Edwina. I could not resist Wayne’s lobbying campaign. I am so glad I said yes.
What motivates you in Making Cancer History® and advancing MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer?
There is no higher calling in life than that of helping to save somebody’s life. Almost every day, we extend life and save lives at MD Anderson.
What is your most rewarding experience as a member of the BOV?
Directing people with cancer to MD Anderson and learning of their successful treatments.
What are your goals as chair of the Public Affairs Committee?
I want us to have the most respected and most trusted reputation for our openness, integrity, honesty and accessibility among all medical institutions in America. We want to continue to be trusted by our patients, our staff, our public, government oversight organizations and the media.