CASNR alum, Norma Ritz Johnson, named executive director of national commodity organization
On a windy day in Lubbock, Texas, Norma Ritz Johnson stepped onto Texas Tech University’s campus as a freshman agricultural communications student with one goal in mind –to become a communications director for a national agricultural organization.
Johnson has not only achieved her goal but exceeded it by taking on several positions in the agricultural industry and the Lubbock community. After she graduated college, Johnson served as the communications director for National Sorghum Producers (NSP) for six years before going on to serve as the executive vice president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce for 17 years. Both of these positions required top-notch communications skills and expertise in government affairs.
Eddie McBride, president and CEO of Lubbock of Chamber of Commerce, said Johnson was his conscience and person to bounce ideas off.
“Her strength is, without a shadow of a doubt, her ability to communicate,” McBride said. “She has great researching ability and boundaries that are on all sides of the argument.”
After 17 years of representing nearly 2,000 businesses and 79,000 employees working with the chamber of commerce, Johnson had the opportunity to go back to her roots in the agricultural industry.
“I will always cherish the opportunity to work on some really significant efforts for this area, Johnson said. “But having a chance to go back to my roots in the sorghum industry and work with amazing producers is something I just couldn’t turn away from.”
Johnson started her new position on Jan. 12, 2021 as the executive director at the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, and under the current circumstances, there has not been a typical day in the office. Phone calls and virtual meetings with Team Sorghum members to discuss projects or certain efforts have become regular responsibilities for Johnson.
“So far, in my first month, I have enjoyed getting to visit with the producers,” Johnson said. “I have not had any in-person meetings yet, but I’m really itching to get out into the country and visit with the producers. That is one of the things that I am looking forward to the most in this role.”
Tim Lust, CEO at NSP, said Johnson enjoys working with industry leaders and producers.
“She is extremely strategic and is someone who is able to see the big picture,” Lust said. “She is able to figure out what is important and get it done.”
Johnson said in the next five years, she hopes to continue diversifying the Sorghum Checkoff markets.
“I would like to continue to build on the great foundation that has been set,” Johnson said. “I want to continue to add that value so we can serve our farmers well.”