The Mathematician & Philanthropist: Sheila Crump Johnson

by | Mar 20, 2021

Who is Sheila Crump Johnson?

Our last profile selected by LaunchSource’s own Amanda Draper (who is always looking for top talent looking to start a career in sales, just send her a note if you’re interested or might have someone that is interested in starting a career in tech sales) is featured in honoring Women’s History Month. We are thankful to the many women that have contributed their support to LaunchSource during a challenging time, and great candidates that have trusted in LaunchSource in helping them jumpstart their careers. There’s a lot that we can learn from Sheila and the others profiled during the month of February and March. Our hope for readers to continue the path the LaunchSource Community has embarked on and what is needed in todays volatile: a commitment to continued learning of the Black and African-American community and the contributions and lasting impact that these individuals have had on our country and world.

Sheila Crump Johnson was born to a mother who was an accountant and a father who was a neurosurgeon in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, on January 25, 1949. She attended Provisio East High School and graduated from the University of Illinois (Miller, 2009). She is renowned as an American businesswoman. Some of her business ventures include being the CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, as well as a co-founder of BET. She founded the Salamander Hospitality Company in the year 2005. Her other properties include the PA tour golf course, the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, and the Reunion Resort. She is celebrated as the first African-American woman to achieve a net worth of over one billion dollars. In her business ventures, she is also renowned for being the first African-American to be the partner/owner in three professional sports franchises, the Washington Mystics, the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Capitals. 

Impact on the Society?

Johnson is an inspiration in the community because of the active way she contributes to building the economy. Through her business ventures, she is an employer, enhancing the livelihoods of the employers in all of her establishments (Johnson, 2014). She co-founded BET Network with her then-husband, Robert L. Johnson, a company that is renowned for supporting black content. She is also passionate about women’s empowerment, aiming at representing women in a different way through film. By May 2020, she was worth about $770 Million (Forbes, 2020). 

She also engages in humanitarian activities in support of the less privileged. For instance, she is the Global Ambassador for CARE, which fights poverty globally. Through the 2007,  I Am Powerful Challenge; Sheila Johnson was able to raise about $8 million. Johnson is recognized for her great effort in contributing positively to society. For instance, she is one of the Library of Virginia’s “Virginia Women in History” (Library of Virginia, 2007). She is also a commendable and influential leader, acting as a good role model through her actions. She has been recognized for embodying the Abraham Lincoln character through her accomplishments. Thus, Johnson is a great influence in the community due to her personal and professional attributes. 

Lessons for Early Career Sales Professionals and Sales Leaders

Sheila Crump Johnson is an influential member of the community. She is a great leader with skills that sales leaders can emulate in running their teams and their organizations. Her success story is inspirational for early career sales professionals, as it reminds them to start small as they climb up the corporate ladder through strategic measures to develop their skills and grow their net worth. Her story motivates individuals in start-ups to keep advancing to greater heights. Sales professionals can also learn the need to diversify for growth and expansion. In Johnson’s case, she is associated with several business ventures, rather than focusing on an individual one. Her boldness in starting different companies is admirable since few have the courage to start another business after making their first business successful, this often holds back many great businesses from coming to fruition. This courage can be applied to different scenarios in the sales industry, where it is necessary to be brave and patient as you work to become successful. Additionally, Johnson shows leaders how they can make positive contributions to society through corporate social responsibility.


Forbes. (2020). “Sheila Johnson”. Forbes.

Johnson, M. (2014). “7 things I learned from the first black female billionaire”. BizWoman.

Library of Virginia. (2007). “Sheila Crump Johnson (1949- ), Loudoun County, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist”. Virginia Women in History. Library of Virginia.

Miller, M. (2009). “The Wealthiest Black Americans”. Forbes.

By LaunchSource

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