The Family Story

The Johnson family’s enduring commitment to help make every place they do business a better place is also our vision. Three generations of the family have guided our work which embodies the passions and values of the family and addresses some of the most pressing societal issues of the day.

woman speaking
The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread is chaired by Helen Johnson-Leipold, president and CEO of Johnson Outdoors.  Ms. Johnson-Leipold became Chairman of the Foundation in 2004, following her father and grandfather in the role.  Under her guidance the Foundation has embraced its unique role as a catalyst for change in our surrounding communities. Modeling her father’s values on philanthropy, Helen was the founder and Chairman of the Board of Next Generation Now, a pioneering child development and family support program that was the first five-star center to serve Racine’s central city. Winnie Johnson Marquart, president of the Johnson Family Foundation, also serves as a Trustee of our Foundation, continuing her family’s commitment to the stewardship and mission of Wingspread.

Previously, the Foundation was chaired by Samuel C. Johnson, fourth generation in his family to run SC Johnson. Sam led the Foundation to focus on sustainable, responsible, and equitable development. Thanks to his remarkable leadership in many circles, the Foundation’s scope and relationships expanded tremendously.

It was H.F. Johnson, Jr. the third-generation leader of the SC Johnson company, who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design corporate and private buildings which blend function, mission, and values, including Wingspread, the former family home that is now the center of our Foundation campus.  H.F. Johnson donated Wingspread to the Johnson Foundation to serve as a unique meeting and conference space that would inspire conferees to seek solutions to challenges.

Today, we continue the family’s legacy by centering our work around improving the lives of people and their communities. We believe healthy, sustainable environments and strong, vibrant communities start with convening the right people, in the right place, in the right way to inspire innovative ideas and solutions with a lasting impact.