California Lawyers Association

CLA Welcomes Sheila Johnston as Associate Executive Director of Communications

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The California Lawyers Association (CLA), the state’s largest voluntary bar association representing thousands of attorneys, announced today that Sheila Johnston has joined CLA’s Senior Executive Team as Associate Executive Director of Communications. In this newly created role, Johnston will design and implement communication strategies in collaboration with Tej Baath, Associate Executive Director of Membership, Marketing and Technology to redefine the CLA experience.

“Sheila has spent the last decade of her career designing communication strategies that result in brand expansion and awareness for the associations she has worked for. Branding herself as a ‘kindness-driven communications executive,’ Sheila has spent the last decade of her career elevating communications for the associations she has served. Her foundation is a mix of creativity and a lot of strategy; she designs communications that utilize the latest trends – digital marketing, engaging copywriting, strategic rebranding. Simply put, no tool is off the table for Sheila when it comes to communications,” said Oyango A. Snell, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director for CLA.

Johnston credits her success in association communication strategies to her professional relationships that stem from her education and work experience. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Stanislaus, and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Sacramento State University. She served as a Leon Panetta Fellow, Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow, and is a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Leadership Management program. Johnston has worked in the California State Legislature, various statewide budget offices, and in the House of Representatives. Her executive experience in associations includes the California Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, NAIOP Silicon Valley, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, the California Pharmacists Association, and the Association of California Healthcare Districts.

“In an association environment, the objectives may be clear, but the response that leadership provides, and members expect, can be a moving target on any given day. Coupled with Sheila’s ability to understand complex issues and design eye-catching assets that communicate to a diverse audience, Sheila’s expertise positions CLA to communicate the association’s value in a manner where audiences will respond and be driven to act,” said Snell.

As a member of CLA’s Senior Executive Team, Johnston will oversee communications strategies, including public relations, social media, and website content creation, and other publications that CLA partners rely on. She will lead the design of marketing assets that uniquely tell the CLA story – where we have been, and where we are going.

Johnston’s position on the Senior Executive Team will ensure that the vision and mission of CLA’s Board of Representatives have an expanded reach to support the growing membership and impact expected for 2023 and beyond.


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