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Billy Johnson Named 2022 Distinguished Alumnus

A still image of Billy Johnson Play Video

Billy Johnson describes his time as an undergraduate in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as challenging. Still, the political science alumnus has made the most of his NC State education, carving out a rewarding career as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and embracing a commitment to solving real-world problems. 

“It was tough, but it prepared me for what was going to come next,” Johnson said of his undergraduate years. He is the chief lobbyist for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and a respected leader who promotes safe, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible recycling. 

Johnson is also a champion of the college. He actively engages in its growth and impact and gives back to his beloved Wolfpack. Because of his accomplishments and engagement, NC State named Johnson the 2022 Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumnus at the annual Alumni Association Evening of Stars Gala in November.

Billy Johnson and his wife, Tracy.

“Billy has been resolute about the impact his NC State education has had on his personal fulfillment,  professional success, and ability to think creatively and strategically,” said Deanna Dannels, dean of the college. “His investment of time, talent and treasure is a reflection of his commitment to the university and college and contributions to our community.” 

For two decades, Johnson has been the leading voice for small businesses and commercial recyclers on Capitol Hill and has worked with five presidential administrations. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration, science and technology from Virginia Tech. 

If you asked me when I graduated, I would have never imagined this moment – at all.

Johnson’s contributions to his alma mater are numerous. They range from sharing real-life experiences with students to participating on advisory boards — the Dean’s Board and the School of Public and International Affairs, among them. In addition, his philanthropic investment includes Friends of the Libraries and the establishment of the William H. Johnson and Tracy Schario-Johnson Endowment to benefit the School of Public and International Affairs. Johnson is also a lifetime member of the Friends of the Libraries and also the Alumni Association. 

On receiving the award, Johnson said: “If you asked me when I graduated, I would never have imagined this moment – at all. It’s overwhelming. But I get more out of it (giving back) than the university gets.”

Johnson offered some advice to current students. “Don’t give up. Keep at it.,” he said and jokingly added, “eat as much Howling Cow ice cream as you can while you still can run off the calories.”