Beth Johnson

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Sugar Land area?

I grew up in Northern Virginia, about 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C. I attended college in Alabama at Auburn University and then moved back for about 10 years. A job opportunity took my family to West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue University about 6 years ago and almost 4 years ago, another great opportunity brought us to Sugar Land.

Child(ren) & Age(s):

I have two daughters- Emily (10) entering 5th grade and Ella (6) entering 1st grade.

One thing about living in the Sugar Land area that has surprised you the most:

The thing that has surprised me the most about living in Sugar Land is that everything you could need or want is at your fingertips. I joke that other than UH football games, I don’t really have a lot of need to leave Fort Bend County- there’s plenty of restaurants, shopping, kids activities, etc.

What is your favorite place to grab a bite in town?

For work meetings, Veritas is my go-to place. Seriously. They know my order. When my kids are dictating the menu, it’s more likely La Madeline or Cheesecake Factory. We have also recently become obsessed with Coco Crepes when we’re on a mission for dessert!

Favorite things to do/shops to visit in Sugar Land?

(Basically anything that you absolutely adore that is local!) I’m training for my first full marathon and I recently made my first visit to Texas Running Company. All I needed was running shoes and gels but I could have spent hours (and dollars) on all the cute running clothes and accessories. As for activities, my girls love any excuse to do art projects. They are regular visitors to The Glazery for pottery painting, Pinot’s Palette for their kids painting days and more recently, the Artsy Soul to do mosaics.

Favorite memory or story that involves being in Sugar Land?

Christmas time in Sugar Land is my favorite. There always seems to be so much to do! A couple years ago, I started picking a Christmas-themed concert at SmartFinancial Center and having a mommy-daughter date with my older daughter. She feels so special getting to go and it’s so much fun to take her out, just the two of us and get that one-on-one time together.

Tell us about your career and how you got involved in it.

I’m currently the Executive Director of Public Relations and Community Partnerships for the University of Houston and I’m based in Sugar Land. My background is in communications and I’ve had a very roundabout way of getting to this role! After I finished college, I spent 5 years working for the Marine Corps Marathon doing public relations.

Then, in a total 180 degree move, I transitioned to a position doing e-communications for George Mason University while I got my Masters degree. After I finished, I ended up working for a tech start-up doing corporate communications for a couple years before my husband’s job moved us to Purdue University in Indiana. There, I fell into a position with the Military Family Research Institute as the director of external relations.
When we moved to Texas for my husband’s role at UH (he’s the Chief of Staff), I really wasn’t sure what the next step for me would be. I met a man who worked for UH who I thought as the coolest job- he spent all day engaging with members of the Fort Bend community, business leaders, local elected officials and others, connecting the dots between them and the University- building, growing and maintaining relationships and being a face at events in the area. I remember driving home one evening after being at a reception together, telling my husband that was my dream next professional step. A few months later, that same man decided to semi-retire and I was so fortunate enough to be thought of for the role. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years now and I have the weirdest, craziest, best job!

One piece of advice you would want to share with moms.

I always tell new moms to take all the advice people give you with a grain of salt. What works for one parent or child doesn’t necessarily work for another and only you know what will work best for your family. That said, I’m a working mom and my husband also has a demanding career, so we’ve had to learn to create a strong support system around us and to accept help. We have a phenomenal nanny who loves my girls and whom they adore. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to ask for help, and more importantly, when you do ask for help, you have be ready to accept that just because something isn’t done exactly your way, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. As long as everyone is happy, healthy and safe, I’m good!

What’s the happiest moment of your life?

Obviously it’s hard to beat my wedding day or the births of my children, but beyond that, it was the day my now husband got back from a 7 month deployment to Iraq. We’d only been together 6 months before he deployed and it was SO hard to get through it. I remember the first hug he gave me when he got off the plane and it still is one of the most powerful and joyous moments of my life. And it lead to some of the other happiest days!

What worries you the most right now?

I’m a mom. It’s my job to worry! I have all the same worries as every other wife and mother- are my kids safe? Are they happy? Am I raising them right? Am I balancing work and home well enough that everyone gets what they need? I try really hard not to let anxiety over take me and also to use it as a reminder every day to be grateful for the things that are so easy to take for granted.

What’s the funniest thing about being a parent?

I think you have to approach parenting with a sense of humor. There are plenty of moments where phrases come flying out of my mouth that I can’t actually believe I’m saying, like “we don’t lick the baby”. And even better are the things my girls say that crack me up- either because they are just like something my husband or I would say, or because these little humans that have taken over my house have developed a sense of humor and a personality! And occasionally, there’s the challenge of having to keep a straight face and disperse some discipline when all I really want to do is go hide in my room and laugh. Like when your two year old climbs out of her crib at naptime and single-handedly dismantles her entire changing table- every diaper, every wipe, spread all over the room.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My husband, Mike. For all the obvious reasons but also because he constantly pushes me to take risks, to be forward thinking, to step outside my comfort zone and to do things I want to do in life to make me feel fulfilled. He’s driven in the best way possible and I’m glad that some of that energy has rubbed off on me in the 12 years we’ve been married.

What brings you the most joy right now?

Getting to travel with my family! I love getting to show them new places and make memories of those new experiences together. We recently went on a cruise and had a stop in Mexico where we swam with a mama dolphin and her 3 week old baby. We all had pure joy written all over our faces after that and those are the moments I treasure the most.

If you could change one thing about Sugar Land, what would it be?

I really wish we had a JCrew. Or Nordstrom. Or both. My husband and my bank account probably wouldn’t appreciate that though!

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