Growing Great Leaders for Conservation and Development across Africa

Meet The Team

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. 

Helen Keller

Meet the team

Steven Johnson - Founder & CEO or GrowthLeaders Africa

Steven Johnson

Founder & CEO

Steve Johnson is a career biodiversity conservation and sustainable development specialist with over 45 years of experience in the field – in executive management positions as well as in senior technical advisory roles across Southern Africa.

Starting his career as a game ranger in the Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management gaining a degree in Adult Education focused on the capacity building of protected-area personnel; rose to become the founder Principal of the Zimbabwe Natural Resources College before he expanded his horizons – moving to South Africa and working his way up to be the Chief Director in the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board, oversaw the Board’s organizational transition into the North West Parks Board, then transitioned into working for IUCN ROSA as the SADC Regional Natural Resources Management Technical Advisor. He was the Chief of Party of the USAID SADC Disaster Management Program, based out of Gaborone, Botswana, later becoming the advisor to the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks; the Chief of Party of the USAID Southern African Regional Environment Programme and in 2018 the Chief of Party of the USAID Combating Wildlife Crime in Southern Africa coordination program.

Having worked with SADC extensively, for more than 15 years, he is known for his ‘Big Thinking’ capabilities who thrives on facilitating change at the macro scale. As a focused, driven person who has profound abilities for working at a variety of levels – from the macro strategic level with regional government officials to the local community levels – he is able to integrate relationship needs across scales, sectors, and contexts. His deep knowledge and understanding of biodiversity, conservation, and sustainable development issues allow him to work as a technical advisor and management expert with a deep passion for strengthening leadership.

His superior interpersonal and leadership skills have led him to become well-known as a successful manager and executive of organizations, projects, and programs – providing exceptional strategic insight to the operating environment as well as an extraordinary ability to get work done through his teams – achieving and surpassing stated goals and targets consistently. Through his work at the executive level, he has gained exceptional skills in Organizational Development and is an outstanding executive coach based on his experience.

His academic and practical knowledge and understanding of management and organizational development processes allow him to not only manage projects, but his breadth of management experience ensures that the cohesion and functioning of the groups he leads, allows for dynamic and adaptive learning to take place in members of the teams as well as within the team as a unit. This enables the team to be adaptive, flexible and responsive to clients’ needs on an ongoing basis.

He is also widely known and respected for his public speaking and facilitation skills, as well as his creativity and interest in innovation, more recently leading the USAID VukaNow thrust to find new ways of combating wildlife crime through machine-learning, artificial intelligence, block-chain, the- internet-of-things, predictive analytical modeling, etc.

Finally, he has grasped the need to use the internet and social media for communication, education, and networking – working virtually and reducing our global necessity to travel. He has been integrally involved in developing four websites and the planning of an online networking platform for knowledge management and dissemination.