Jill Johnson, CEO The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Newark, NJ (Contributed photo)

Johnson Is Recognized For Achievements As A Visionary, Small Business Champion & Inclusion Advocate On A Mission To Make The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem More Equitable 

Newark, NJ, September 20, 2022 — The Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership announced today that CEO Jill Johnson has been honored with the Women Leaders In Innovation Award from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes women leaders who have applied their knowledge and experience to create innovative programs which foster economic opportunities for marginalized New Jersey residents, helping to make the state a better and more equitable place to live and to work. Johnson is the honoree for innovation in finance and social advancement. The awards reception and ceremony will be held on Wednesday, October 12. Registration for the event is available on the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce website

Jill Johnson is a nationally-recognized thought leader and trailblazer working to foster an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for people from historically excluded populations. She co-founded the Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL)  in 2002 and serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the nonprofit organization. Now in its twentieth year, IFEL leverages the power of relationship capital to create pathways to success for Black and Latinx founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

An expert in business strategy and a fierce champion for inclusion, Johnson has spearheaded innovative programming to address the systemic barriers faced by entrepreneurs of color under IFEL’s three program focus areas: The Women of Color Connecting initiative leverages the power of relationship capital and works to build the capacity of Women of Color entrepreneurs, placing them on the grow-scale-exit trajectory; The Making of Black Angels movement drives diversity and inclusion within the angel investing sector and seeks to increase the number of Black angel investors; and, Small Businesses Need Us, started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, engages a volunteer corps of business professionals ready to help small businesses navigate the hardships of being under-resourced.

Johnson started her career in the financial analyst program in mergers and acquisitions at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and moved on to hold leadership positions in her family’s business, City News Publishing Company. A member of the Women’s Forum of New York, the Women Business Collaborative, and Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs, Johnson serves on the board of the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and is a member of the America250 Innovation, Science & Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. She earned a B.A. in economics from Harvard University and is married with four amazing sons.

“I am proud to receive this very special award, which shines a bright light on the legacy of innovation in the state, but more importantly, emphasizes that equity and inclusion need to be more than just buzzwords. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go before the entrepreneurial ecosystem is accessible to those who have traditionally been excluded,” Johnson stated. 

“The award recipients selected by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce have demonstrated that innovative thinking can lead to a more equitable New Jersey, employing new ideas to break down old barriers and paving the way for historically marginalized people to gain access to the tools needed to succeed,” said Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. 


The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) is an independent, nonprofit organization that leverages the power of relationship capital to create pathways to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and small business owners. Founded in 2002, IFEL’s mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent people from historically excluded populations from being able to access the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation. Learn more at www.weareifel.org.

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