Entrepreneur | instigator | advisor
A humanitarian at heart and entrepreneur by nature, Fay M. Johnson is the new breed of change maker—one who believes we can live well while also doing good. A child of two realities—born in Apartheid South Africa and raised in Silicon Valley during the dot.com boom—Fay integrates her commitment for social change with the belief that business can and should create positive change.
For too long, social activism has been represented by those who choose to opt-out of the system. Fay brings a fresh perspective that encourages people to opt-in—for good labor practices, environmental stewardship, human rights, and other pressing issues. Fay understands that each decision we make can lead to a better world, but those decisions don’t need to be in favor of austerity or against comfort. Her mission is to share this empowering belief so that others can join in the movement to build a better tomorrow.
Fay's last entrepreneurial endeavor, deliberateLIFE, promoted living a more ethical and sustainable life, with ease and style. The company published deliberateLIFE Magazine, a digital lifestyle magazine designed and edited by Fay. deliberateLIFE provided information, products, and off-line events to make a sustainable, healthy, mindful lifestyle easier. The magazine won readers in 52 countries, with praise that it was the Martha Stewart Living for a new generation. Fay led a team of eight and serves as the CEO and Editor-in-Chief. Fay continues her entrepreneurial endeavors, collaborating with other socially-minded individuals on new products and services. (New project in the works).
In 2015 Fay founded a national dinner series (Deliberate Discourse), which brings neighbors and friends around the dinner table to discuss race and identity in America. Fay designed the unique, introspective, and empathy-building experience, and has personally facilitated dinners in 11 cities across the U.S. Since, she has been invited to train others on how to effectively host their own dinners, expanding this work to more than 200 homes.
The daughter of two social entrepreneurs, she spent much of her childhood traveling, visiting over 26 countries before she graduated from high school. These experiences embedded the deep belief that we are all part of one large global village. Fay has lived and worked in Hungary, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, the United States and South Africa.
Fay also consults to influencers, businesses, governments, and non-profits on how to leverage their resources effectively to create change. Catch some of Fay's thoughts on HuffingtonPost, FastCompany, or Inc.com.
Fay has a long history of working at the intersection of the private and public sectors. Between 2005 - 2011, Fay lived and worked in Washington, DC, where she served as the Co-Director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus an active Member organization that highlights and advocates on behalf of abused individuals. She also served as a key staff member on the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs during which time she coordinated 18 Hearings, served as the liaison between witnesses and the committee, assisted in the introduction of 19 bills including H.R. 2003 on Human Rights in Ethiopia, collaborated on the reauthorization of PEPFAR and an amendment to increase TB funding by $50million USD.
After leaving Capitol Hill, Fay served as a Policy Advisor at Oxfam America, leading the organization's advocacy and campaigning efforts during the 2008 drought in Ethiopia, and ongoing efforts in Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Iraq.
Seeing the need for a more multidisciplinary approach to today's pressing social issues, in 2009 Fay formed Red Balloon Ideas, a boutique consulting firm that works to increase the success of social impact initiatives. The firm utilizes a deep understanding of international development and business best practices to support solutions that reduce poverty and social injustice. The firm utilizes a methodology commonly known in the public health sphere as behavior change communication to help increase the adoption of products, behaviors or life-saving ideas. Red Balloon Ideas is headquartered in Washington, DC.
Fay has also launched several public engagement campaigns, including Our Children 2010 – an initiative to provide safe spaces for children during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in her home country of South Africa. For this campaign, she produced videos and educational material that were distributed to over 5,000 groups across the nation in an effort to reduce child trafficking. Fay was also involved in the creation of the 2008 film Call+Response, a 'rockumentary' about human trafficking. Her personal volunteer work utilizes skills from the market places, as she works with social justice groups to bring awareness to issues of poverty and human rights abuses.
Before moving to Washington DC in 2005, Fay studied and worked in California, where she ran her first business (juggling classes and clients) and worked for a strategic management consulting firm assisting with the development of a training manual for executives looking to expand their work into emerging markets.
Fay received a degree in International Development Studies with a focus on Africa and the Middle East from the University of California Los Angeles. While at UCLA, Fay collaborated with a handful of students to start the Darfur Action Committee which successfully launched a campaign to promote divestment from companies investing in Sudan. The movements garnered support from celebrities such as George Clooney and Don Cheadle and celebrated its first win, the divestment of calPERS funds. This was followed by an even greater success when the State of California followed suit. Fay also worked at a shelter for trafficked women in LA run by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
Fay holds a Master's degree from Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.