SHERIDAN — Servant. Hard-working. Awesome. Positive. Competitive. Leader. Dynamic.
These words have been used to describe the six women nominated for the 2018 FAB Woman of the Year award. Each woman earned the recognition delivered Friday at the FAB (For. About. By.) Women’s Conference, but Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce CEO Dixie Johnson took home the award.
In the nomination, her brother Chuck Wells said, “In addition to her service and offices held, Dixie is a woman of influence with boundless energy and commitment. She is a valuable resource for all entities considering policy which affects her community, and if an event is happening in Sheridan, Dixie can be found working.
“In addition, she is always available to help behind the scenes in any way possible,” Wells continued. “Under her influence and leadership, Sheridan has become a source of pride and envy of many communities, as well as a highlight destination for countless visitors.”
Earlier this year, the FAB committee solicited nominations for the annual award. Johnson was nominated alongside Nichole Simque, Barb Williams, Brandy Campbell, Crissy Hunter and Sarah Heuck Sinclair were nominated. The committee chose Johnson as this year’s winner.
Johnson has served as the CEO at the Chamber since 2011. She graduated from Sheridan High School in 1984. She attended college while raising her family but did not finish a degree. In 2003, she received certification from Dale Carnegie Leadership Training. She then became the director of sales and marketing at the Sheridan Holiday Inn, and later, the executive director for the Big Horn Homebuilders Association.
“Dixie is very deserving of this award. Dixie is an incredible leader and I could go on and on,” said Ryan Koltiska, a former coworker of Johnson’s and the current executive director of Kids Life. “So I will. One thing that was really impactful to me watching Dixie lead is that she is always willing to do the hard things. She does not take shortcuts if it is not the right thing to do. She always confronts an issue and never leaves something unresolved, even if confronting the person or issue is hard. I watched and listened for three years and am trying to replicate that leadership quality in my director role now.
“Dixie is also focused on ‘the greater good,’” Koltiska continued. “If something is not advantageous for the Chamber but is good for the community, she picks the community. If something is good for her staff but creates a hardship on her, she takes the heat.”
Her education included graduation from Leadership Sheridan County and the Center for a Vital Community’s CiViC leadership program. She’s also received Institution for Organization Management designation with a certificate in nonprofit organization management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Beyond her work at the local Chamber, Johnson has served on the Wyoming State Chamber board since 2012 and as president since 2017. She also serves on the Sheridan-Johnson Counties Critical Air Service Team. She was also a board member for the Big Horn Mountain Coalition, Kendrick Golf Association and Kendrick Ladies Golf Association. She currently serves on the Tongue River Valley Community Center board.
“Dixie is a remarkable leader and excellent role model,” said Jodi Hartley, director of marketing and communications at the Chamber. “She has strength, passion, compassion and leads with integrity. Dixie doesn’t ask for anyone to do something she herself wouldn’t do, and she always has the community’s best interest in mind when making decisions.”
Busy. Balanced. Adaptable. Listener. Driven.
The women nominated for the FAB Woman of the Year award earned the abundance of descriptors thrown their way this year.
“Dixie has given the Chamber the strong reputation that it has. She is honest, dependable, loyal and works tirelessly for Sheridan County. Dixie is a great leader because of her passion for this community and her drive to give back to the place she was born and raised.”
— Teresa Detimore
“I am honored to work for Dixie. She leads with honesty, integrity and genuine compassion and consideration for her staff, board of directors and community. It is the norm for her to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave. She truly deserves this recognition for the immeasurable time and energy she puts in to keeping Sheridan at its best today and into the future. I am also proud to have her as a good friend.”
— Karen Myers
“If Dixie were a color, she would be yellow. Yellow like the sunshine, sweet lemonade and sunflowers. Yellow because of the joyous and radiant color, exuding warmth, inspiration and vitality, all which Dixie brings…just by entering into a room.”
— Katie Goodell
“She’s the real deal. She’s strong but not a bully. She’s willing to take risks and accept failure with grace. She believes in her abilities but is not proud. She works hard no matter if people are looking or not. She has the title of CEO of the Chamber so one could easily think she does everything just to grow the organization to make her look good, but she genuinely cares about the community and believes in what she is doing.
Outside of the Chamber she is also the real deal. She cares for others not just in word, but in deed. She would give the shirt off her back for someone in need. Again, she is a strong woman, but as strong as she is is exactly how compassionate and loving she is.
She was an incredible boss to me, she allowed me to learn, make mistakes, grow and even step back and let me lead sometimes. I could not do my job now without having been under her leadership. She’s also a great friend.”
— Ryan Koltiska