Todd Johnson started at Goshen College as the K-12 outreach coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) on March 16.

I just want to come in and be a positive role model and just be a positive asset for our team here at Goshen College.

— Todd Johnson

Courtney Ropp had previously held the role until she resigned earlier this year.

Cyneatha Millsaps, the CCE’s executive director, said, “We had several candidates apply. What Todd brought that stood out more than anything was his personality [and] his ability to just connect really quickly with the people in the room.”

“Before taking this job,” Johnson said, “I was working in Elkhart for the Elkhart Parks and Recreation Department as an event coordinator assistant … My role was to come up with programs for the community.”

Johnson also played Division I basketball for Northern Kentucky University and with that experience, he has also volunteered to train kids in his spare time.

“Because he had run youth camps before and he also came from the Elkhart community,” Millsaps added, “he had … the connections that we would need — to young parents specifically.

“Part of our granting for CCE is targeted towards students of color and families of color, specifically [in] south-central Elkhart. [Having] somebody out of Elkhart who already had a lot of those connections — for us, that was really important.”

Most of the work involved with the job is organizing and planning summer camps that GC puts on for younger students through a Lilly grant.

Millsaps said the position “is designed to help kids K-12 and their parents create a college-going mindset.”

“Our role is to introduce them to college,” she continued. “From the campus to programming, [just] getting them a feel of what it means to be on a college campus, to do things with a college [and] connect to college early on.”

Another significant piece of the position and for CCE as a whole is to connect GC students with the local K-12 community.

“For students who need to do internships,” Millsaps said, “who need to do community engagement kind of projects, they should see us at CCE … Whether it’s for K-12 or for just community connections themselves, they should contact CCE and let us help put those things together.”

Johnson said he hoped to create connections between GC, Goshen and Elkhart Community Schools by “trying to bring our athletes to those environments to be role models for the kids.”

“We might have pen pals,” he added, “we may have a function at an elementary school in Elkhart and we’ll take three or four [players] and go to the elementary schools to be role models and just a positive reinforcement for the kids.”

When asked why he came to GC, Johnson said, “I knew a little bit about Goshen College before taking the job … I had a friend, Jerron Jameson, that played basketball here about 6 or 7 years ago, so I was kind of familiar with the college, familiar with a little bit about the campus and this opportunity kind of presented itself and I wanted to take it.”

“I just hope to make a special impact on my team and the kids that we serve,” Johnson said. “I just want to come in and be a positive role model and just be a positive asset for our team here at Goshen College.”