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Remembering Barbara Johnson

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Barbara Johnson, one of AME’s founding members. Barbara remained one of media literacy’s most staunch advocates, working tirelessly to support and promote media literacy initiatives both within our state of Washington and nationally. 

Governor Inslee signs the very first media literacy bill in our nation in 2016.
From left to right:
Governor Jay Inslee, Dennis Small, Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Cohen, Action for Media Education, Barbara Johnson, Action for Media Education

In addition to her involvement with AME, Barbara served for over 30 years as a key staff member for the Northwest Center for Excellence in Media Literacy, based in the College of Education at the University of Washington. During this time, Barbara helped to provide leadership on many of the Center’s projects.  Colleagues who worked with Barbara greatly admired her tremendous organizational skills and the important guidance she was able to provide.  Her passion for media literacy education was always a driving force and served as an inspiration not only to new students in this field but also to the many experienced teachers with whom she regularly had contact. 

During her final days, both colleagues and friends from throughout the country sent messages of support, respect and love. This tremendous outpouring of emotion reflected the impact that Barbara has had on so many people.  She will long be remembered for her kind and gentle spirit, her patient advice and guidance in difficult situations and the courage and perseverance which were apparent whenever she was presented challenges both professionally as well as personally during her long battle with illness. 

Barbara Johnson speaks after receiving the AME Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.  

In 2018 AME awarded Barbara a lifetime achievement award for all her many contributions to media literacy education.  Barbara will be greatly missed. For all of us in AME who have had the privilege of working with her, we find this message she received from Senator Marko Liias, Washington’s champion for media literacy legislation, particularly meaningful:

“Barbara, I want to thank you for your relentless dedication to helping our young Washingtonians have a better understanding of this wild, crazy world we live in. I will always cherish the work we got to do together promoting media literacy. Your grace, poise, and deeply caring nature will be something I will always carry with me. You can rest assured that we will carry on and continue this important work, and we know you will be with us every step of the way.”

1 thought on “Remembering Barbara Johnson”

  1. Barbara’s passing truly saddens me. She was a pioneer in media literacy and a stalwart proponent for the cause for decades. Also, not least on her list of accomplishments, she managed to lead with grace and kindness

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