Retired CFO helped lead Chamber through growth period

DULUTH -- Gwinnett business leaders will soon celebrate the retirement of a Chamber of Commerce leader.

Larry Johnson retired last month from his job as chief financial officer of the business organization. A celebration is scheduled for later this week.

Johnson, 69, spent his career in varying positions, working as vice president of a large international organization before working as a general contractor. Later, he began work with one of Gwinnett's most well-known non-profits, Annandale, before joining the Chamber in 1996.

"It proved to be a wonderful decision and quite an exciting ride over the past 15 years," Johnson said in an email. "Most of all, I will miss the people -- from the members, to the board and the staff -- everyone has been a joy to work with at the Chamber. It has been an incredible experience having had the opportunity to work with a group of people who truly care about the community and who are willing to support the mission of the Chamber."

Johnson played a key role in a very busy time for the Chamber, which has grown exponentially in the past two decades, both from the county's population growth and the work of leaders to expand business opportunities, particularly with the Partnership Gwinnett program created five years ago.

"With challenges also come great opportunities. That is exactly what we experienced with the Gwinnett Chamber's tremendous growth over the past decade," Johnson said. "I had the personal challenge of making sure the Chamber was financially responsible by meeting revenue goals and keeping our expenses within budget."

Johnson's work in meeting that objective year after year earned him high praise from Jim Maran, the Chamber's president and CEO.

"Larry Johnson served this Chamber with a fiscally responsible and visionary approach to the non-profit business world," Maran said. "His background in finance and his deep-rooted passion for the Gwinnett Community contributed greatly to his ability to manage our portfolio as a rapidly growing nonprofit organization."

Johnson noted the work to open the Chamber building on Sugarloaf Parkway as one of the highlights of his time with the organization, and Maran remembered that as a major accomplishment as well.

"Larry's support of the Chamber to manage the operations and finances of this new building back in 2000 laid the groundwork for the growth we have experienced since I have been on board," he said. "Today, we have a world-class facility housing highly-skilled talent that executes the board's vision and meets the needs of our membership community every day plus one."

In his retirement, Johnson is looking forward to having more time for his hobbies of hunting and nature photography, traveling and spending time with his family, including his wife of 38 years Dora Kennedy Johnson, his daughter and two grandsons.

"After taking a little time off, I plan to start looking for new venture to keep busy," Johnson said. "I look forward to continuing to work in some capacity while having a little bit of freedom to enjoy life. Retiring from the Chamber is the end of a chapter for me, but definitely not the end of the book."

At the Chamber, former Outcomes Health Information Solutions Vice President Craig Brown has been named the new chief financial officer.