Sara E. Johnson is a 1974 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1977 graduate of the Northwestern School of Law. She practiced law with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, from 1977-1988, specializing in litigation challenging the displacement of low income residents from urban renewal areas and preservation of FHA multi-family housing as affordable housing. From 1985-1988 she served as Vice President and General Counsel of Telesis Corporation, a Washington D.C. based real estate development company.
In 1988, Sara became the first operational President of the National Housing Trust, organizing the Board of Directors, hiring staff, securing the Trust's first charitable grants and structuring LIHTC investments in several multi-family developments. She played a critical role in shaping federal housing legislation, and formed the Preservation Working Group. Capitalization of NHT-E was made possible in part by the liquidation of a million-dollar investment Sara made during her Trust tenure. She has served on the Trust's Board of Directors since her resignation as President in 1992.
From 1993 to 2010, Sara was the sole proprietor of a consulting firm providing services to affordable housing and community development entities, national nonprofit entities, foundations, GSEs, and HUD. Her work with HUD included negotiating with private owners of troubled properties, for corrective action. She also developed tenant protections in the disposition of FHA held multifamily mortgages and other asset sale programs.
During the 1998-2006 period, she participated in the restructuring and subsequent liquidation of a closely held domestic manufacturer of consumer products, facing competitive pressure from offshore suppliers.
Sara has a long standing interest in agriculture, and natural resource based rural development. She became a Charlottesville, Virginia resident in 2012.