Dr. Vernon Johnson, Lumity Volunteer

It seems like an oxymoron at first: “Corporate is a powerful vehicle for change.” But that’s the experience of Dr. Vernon Johnson, Director, Inclusion, and Diversity, at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and Lumity volunteer.

Born and bred in Chicago, Dr. Johnson always had a passion for helping Chicagoland young people and communities grow and thrive. He launched his career in non-profit and government—where he quickly saw the opportunities for companies to make a difference.

“When I started as a housing development case manager for the City of Chicago, I met wonderful people who just didn’t have the resources they needed to be successful,” explains Dr. Johnson. “They lived in communities without grocery stores and had only 1-2 buses with limited schedules. They were trying to get jobs but lacked access to companies.”

“When you look at these eco-systems,” Dr. Johnson continues, “you see how institutions—banks, grocery stores, companies—and gainful employment are critical for people and communities to prosper. The corporate sector is a powerful vehicle to expedite change in new and different ways with these neighborhoods.”

Here at Lumity, we share Dr. Johnson’s belief and experience that businesses can be catalysts for change. In fact, over the last six years, he has been volunteering with us to create connections between companies, communities, and young people. He has established our STEM career awareness programs at his previous companies and continues to work with Lumity youth as a STEM Talk speaker. 

As Dr. Johnson says, “We are giving kids career opportunities that they might not otherwise get. I think back to the way I was in high school. I didn’t know the ins and out of corporate life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do right away. That’s exactly what I love about volunteering with Lumity. We are exposing kids to STEM careers and are streamlining their access to them.”  

Ready to make an impact in the life of a Chicagoland student? Click here to learn more about the ways you can get involved.