An Alumni with Vision: Robert Johnson, Esquire

Robert Johnson, Esquire was a leader on campus, respected scholar, and known as an overall upstanding young man. Johnson was the Vice President of Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (ABLE) in 1988 when more than two dozen students marched into the college’s faculty meeting and presented a list of grievances compiled by the Black students on campus. The students’ organized activism resulted in the hiring of Dr. Fred Hord and the development of a Black Studies program that exists today as the Africana Studies Department.


Today Johnson remains a leader who guides corporate strategies, and he specializes in conflict resolution and developing sustainable work place environments that empower marginalized communities.


Impacting Lives Through Corporate Leadership

Two years after taking over the Knox College faculty meeting Johnson graduated from Knox with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Business Administration and in Sociology and Anthropology. He then earned the Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of law.


In the mid-1990s Johnson became an attorney for the McDonald’s corporate headquarters, and he had a remarkable 15-year tenure with the company.  He managed the Worker’s Compensation programs for the company’s domestic corporate-owned restaurants, which had  a $55 Million annual budget. Johnson was accredited with implementing the corporation’s Worker’s Compensation department, which saved McDonald’s $60 million dollars over several years.


“Achieving success in corporate America was part of the vision I had for myself,” Johnson explained his thoughts on being a leader at McDonald’s. “I am proud of the professional accomplishments I achieved while I was there. I believe the programs and policies I developed greatly benefited the company, and most important, the Worker’s Compensation program directly impacted the lives of many people.”


Guiding Vision of the Solomon Group, LL.C

Johnson left McDonald’s in 2014 to form the Solomon Group with several other partners. The decision to leave McDonald’s and take a new career direction was founded in many thoughts and ideas, but the main idea was Johnson’s desire to impact the corporate culture.


“Success and value-driven leadership are not polar opposites,” Robert explained his vision for a value-centered leadership model for businesses and corporations. “At the Solomon Group, we work with clients to develop leaders who support the development of new generations of leaders so that the entire company will benefit. We work to create actionable solutions that achieve strategic goals, but that also take into account the people involved and those impacted.”


As the Managing Partner of the Solomon Group, LLC, Johnson consults with corporations on innovative ways to develop leadership, executive brand management, and focused empowerment networking.  Since inception the Solomon Group has hosted seminars, workshops and micro conferences to educate decision makers about value-centered leadership principles.  Johnson’s group provides Inspiring, thought provoking discussions, two-way conversations that lead people to action that can make a difference and have immediate impact.


Johnson has achieved many levels of professional success, but he remains a man who has a vision that is greater than his past and recent successes.


“When I was at Knox I had a roommate who went home every weekend and I used those evenings when I had the room to myself to listen to jazz and to flip through GQ Magazine,’ Robert shared “In my dorm room in Seymour I began to create a vision for myself. I’ve been fortunate to have realized many of the visions I had for my life. I feel good about all I have done so far, but there’s still more I hope to accomplish.”


Beyond his professional career, Johnson is active in the Chicago community and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the National Urban League’s Black Executive Exchange Program. He is a recipient of the 2009 Chicago United Business Leaders of Color Award, the 2008 Council on Legal Educational Opportunity Legacy Diversity Award, the 2006 National Eagle Leadership Institute and Career Focus Magazine Eagle Award, and the McDonald’s Corporation 2003 Shining Light Award.