Bennie F. Johnson takes the helm of AIGA as Executive Director

NEW YORK (January 14, 2020) — AIGA, The Professional Association for Design, announces Bennie F. Johnson as Executive Director of the organization, effective immediately. This appointment is the result of an exhaustive search process led by the Board of Directors and facilitated by the highly respected executive search firm, Nonprofit HR.

A proven executive leader in nonprofits with chapter-based organizational experience, Johnson joins AIGA from the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), where he led strategy and marketing for the $250 million organization as Chief Strategy Officer. At the BBB, Johnson managed partnerships with Google,, Federal Trade Commission, Coca-Cola, Verizon, and P&G, while working with strategic marketing and a portfolio self-regulatory programs on strategy, brand, customer acquisition, marketing and market research and insights.  

“Bennie brings a 360-degree view of association leadership, from managing people to influencing communities and enacting change,” said Dana Arnett, President of AIGA Board of Directors. “His proven leadership skills will help us harness the power and passion of our AIGA community.” Ashleigh Axios, President-Elect of AIGA Board of Directors and chair of the executive search committee said, “AIGA’s board of directors is confident in Bennie’s ability to manage through change, working hand-in-hand with us and our incredible community to craft a more effective organization. One that serves the needs of the profession and our vision of a more equitable design field.”

In previous roles, Johnson worked at both a national and chapter level integrating design-driven approaches to build brands, create new streams of revenue, lead cross-functional teams and activate stakeholders. Johnson, while at the BBB, led an enterprise-wide restructuring strategy across 106 Bureaus, five affiliates, and 20 industry programs.

“I’m drawn to organizations where I can play an active role leading and creating new modes of business and enterprise to inspire stronger visions for the future,” said Johnson. “Since AIGA is entering a new decade of growth, I am thrilled to join this organization where my educational background, professional experience and personal passions merge and align with the organization’s needs and vision.” 

Johnson’s initial connection with design came through Professor Robert Reed, his personal mentor and an inspirational teacher for generations of students. At Yale, Reed’s undergraduate class titled “Design” helped Johnson understand how design is a tool to shape and solve real world, business and structural product problems. At Columbia University while earning an MS in Strategic Communications, Johnson mastered the use of design strategy to drive expansion, collaboration and growth.

“I have been passionate about design as a part of innovation and creativity my entire life,” said Johnson. “Just as design has been a catalyst and spark in my life professionally, design can serve that role for organizations. From large multinational concerns to next-generation family endeavors, businesses are  thinking about ways to solve problems, bring new products to market, and create a better future for themselves and their customers. Design is an integral part of that.”

Johnson was invited to join the Advisory Council for Columbia University, School of Professional Studies in 2015 and in 2010 the Anacostia Community Museum of the Smithsonian Institution where he is the Board Chair. As a third-generation Washingtonian who attended DC public schools, Johnson resides in DC with his wife and two children.

AIGA, founded in 1914, is the profession’s oldest and largest professional association with more than 70 chapters and more than 18,000 members. The mission of AIGA is to enhance the value and deepen the impact of design across all disciplines on business, society, and our collective future.

About AIGA

AIGA, the professional association for design, advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, AIGA brings together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and creates the vision for a collective future. AIGA defines global standards and ethical practices, guides design education, inspires designers and the public, enhances professional development, and makes powerful tools and resources accessible to all. Learn more at

When & Where
Wed, Jan 15, 2020 - Fri, Jan 31, 2020