My name is Connie L. Johnson. I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, and a friend, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 2002. I am the oldest daughter of Gladys Belle Dean-Johnson, who was a 42 year old divorcee who died of AIDS-related illness in 1995. Being a person living with HIV/AIDS and the offspring of a person who lost their battle with it informs my advocacy work by honoring my mother's legacy and women like her. My work is geared specifically toward women living with HIV/AIDS who are mothers\grandmothers doing their best to maintain their health and care for the needs of those they are responsible for. As a native of South Carolina who once lived in Chicago and has traveled to Kenya twice, I have come to learn that women living with HIV/AIDS, whether in rural America, urban America or developing nations, are powerful, resilient beings who deserve to have their voices heard. My mission is to help women tell their stories, their way and use their voices to advocate for themselves and their communities. I am the owner of Golden Lyfe LLC and the founder of Growing Into Greatness, a grassroots, community-focused nonprofit organization that engages and mobilizes historically marginalized populations through specialized programs, initiatives, events and services. I am the author of Beyond Measure, a collection of autobiographical sketches of eight Kenyan women who are living with HIV/AIDS. And I am currently writing my second book, a memoir titled Survivor’s Song. In 2009, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies from Columbia College in Columbia, SC. And in 2013, I earned a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University Chicago. I currently reside in my hometown of Orangeburg, SC.
Why Connie wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me: I would like to be a part of A Girl Like Me because I am aware that there are thousands of women like my mother who would rather suffer in silence than to confront the possibility of negative stigma and marginalization that often accompanies disclosing. I would like to offer my voice to the world on behalf of women around the globe who have yet to discover their own voices.
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