Myrna Johnson in Detail

facts1Written by Christine Riccelli

The Dalai Lama:

The person she’d most like to meet.

What She’s Reading:

“Dreams of Joy” by Lisa See.
“But I also read lots of mystery novels­—my love of mysteries dates back to when I was a young girl, with the Nancy Drew series.”

$1 Million:

Total amount Iowa Public Radio’s 7,000 sustaining members give each year. One of Johnson’s major goals is to create a sustainable funding strategy for the organization and its 24 stations, including developing the right mix of support from private donors, foundations and public-private partnerships.


Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the former Washington Post investigative reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal.

Happy Trails:

Johnson enjoys bicycling along Iowa’s many trails and taking walks in her neighborhood.

“A beautiful kind of respite”:

How Johnson describes the year she spent earning a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Geared toward midcareer professionals, the program “was very stimulating. Visitors from around the world and my classmates made it so interesting. … I had been working nonstop since high school, so to immerse myself in that environment was fantastic.”

It Takes Two:

Johnson has always viewed her career as having “two strands”—public radio and outdoor recreation—and has worked for such organizations as National Public Radio
in Washington, D.C., the Outdoor Industry Association in Boulder, Colo., and the Boston Schoolyard Initiative in Boston. She joined Iowa Public Radio last January.


Her favorite classical composer “because he’s so dramatic.”


Johnson’s favorite album. The 1971 work by singer-songwriter Carole King remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

“Wow, that could be perfect.”

Johnson’s response when one of her sisters, who lives in Fort Dodge, told her about the opening at Iowa Public Radio. “It made a lot of sense,” Johnson says, given that the position would combine her passions for public service, nonprofit work and journalism.


Jamaican coffee with sweetened condensed milk.

Lost Island Lake:

The place of some of her fondest childhood memories. The lake is located near her hometown of Ruthven in northwest Iowa. “I’d ride my bike around the lake, go for a swim, play on the nearby trails and then go to Van Park Store for an ice cream treat. My friends and I would make a whole day excursion of it.”

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