The Johnson & Strachan Distinguished Speaker Series has recently been renamed the Brown & Brown Distinguished Speaker Series to reflect the acquisition of the sponsoring company, Johnson & Strachan, by Brown & Brown Insurance. Established in 2009, the speaker series has brought a diverse group of guest speakers, ranging from corporate leaders to government officials, to Mason's campus.
This community-based, academic initiative aims to enrich the educational experience of the School of Management's students, faculty, and alumni while building and strengthening relationships with the region's business community. Though the series name has changed, the driving force of this initiative continues to be alumnus, Jeff Johnson '75.
Johnson, who received his BS in business administration from the George Mason, was approached with the idea for the speaker series in the fall of 2008. He had been very active as an alumnus, having served as a board member, vice-president, and president of the George Mason University Alumni Association. At the time, Johnson was principal and president of Johnson & Strachan Insurance. "I thought it was an excellent idea and presented it to my partners," Johnson reminisces. "We thought it was a worthwhile initiative so we agreed to a 3 year sponsorship."
The series proved to be very successful and was well received by Mason students and the local business community. As a result, Johnson and his business partners, Bill Strachan, Rick Dygve, and Charlie Venus, decided to extend the sponsorship. "We have been very pleased with the success of these events. We have had great audiences and positive feedback," says Johnson. "Thanks to this series, Mason students get the chance to interact with the local business community and the event's featured speaker."
Past speakers have included Steve Case, Newt Gingrich, and George Will.
"By establishing the speakers series," says Alison O'Brien, associate dean for undergraduate program at the School of Management, "Jeff is essentially contributing to the intellectual capacity of the region and to our efforts to enhance the reputation of the school and the university."
Johnson, who has since retired, secured the future of the speaker series with Brown & Brown's support. He looks forward to continuing to support the series and its mission and continues to play an active role within the School of Management and the university by serving on the Dean's Advisory Council and as the Treasurer on the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees.
"I'm a big believer that you need to give back. I can attribute a lot of my success to my education at George Mason," he says.
The next Brown & Brown Distinguished Speaker Series event will take place on June 6 and feature Fortune 200 CFO Gary Perlin of Capital One Bank.
Visit som.gmu.edu/dss for more information on upcoming Brown & Brown Distinguished Speaker Series events.