DeKalb Chamber recognizes Shelley Johnson for Leadership

Auburn Star

Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 10:13 am | Updated: 10:19 am, Tue Apr 21, 2015.

AUBURN — The DeKalb Chamber Partnership has designated three local residents as “Brave Ones” who exemplify bravery in DeKalb County.

The chamber made its selections from nominations in three categories tied with its mission of business, community and education. It is honoring Jeremiah Otis in the category of business, Natalie Taylor DeWitt in the category of community and Shelley Johnson for education.

The honors promote Leadercast DeKalb, which is using “The Brave Ones” as its theme for 2015. The Leadercast event is broadcast live from Atlanta, Georgia, to exclusive host sites around the world. The DeKalb Chamber Partnership will serve as the host for Leadercast at County Line Church in rural Auburn on May 8.

The chamber provided these biographical sketches of its local “Brave Ones”:

Business — Jeremiah Otis

Jeremiah Otis loves people. He firmly believes that you can learn something from every single person you encounter, as long as you take the time to get to know them. For years, he dreamed of a way to help people connect with each other. He also loves coffee — and discovered that coffee is a great way to connect people. In 2012, he opened Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings, with the mission of enriching lives by building community in unexpected ways. Otis has worked with different sectors of the community on a wide range of events in an effort to accomplish his mission. Projects include a student-organized 5K fundraiser benefiting several local charities, hosting a community Thanksgiving meal, furthering bicycling safety and usage throughout the community, and working with a regional economic development group to raise awareness about what makes northeast Indiana such a great place. When he isn’t working at the coffee shop, you can find him having dinner at local eateries or riding a bicycle somewhere around DeKalb County — mostly likely with friends, both old and new.

Community — Natalie Taylor DeWitt

Natalie Taylor-DeWitt has been a vibrant part of Auburn her whole life. From a young age she was taught how to love and serve her community. As a young child she was an active member of church and school groups, and as she grew, her enthusiasm to be involved only grew. Eventually community building transformed from sports and extra-curriculars to promoting the city of Auburn as well as involvement in philanthropic organizations to help this community and the people in it. She has been managing partner at Taylor Rental/Party Plus in Auburn since 2006, and is co-chair of a new event, Pink Out DeKalb County 2015, presented by Tri-Kappa. She is passionate about helping plan annual community events with organizations and values her relationships with members of United Way, the Chamber, Tri-Kappa, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Downtown Auburn Business Association, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Community Foundation, Garden Club, DeKalb County Free Fall Fair, schools, churches, and the list goes on. She loves any excuse to help plan a successful fundraiser event. Natalie has made a vital, bold, everlasting, positive impact on her community and the people who live there with her.

Education — Shelley Johnson

Shelley Johnson is currently in her 30th year of teaching at DeKalb High School, where she is the director of choral music. She is the director of two concert choirs, a men’s choir (Skinny Bois), a ladies’ show and concert choir (Sound Sensation), a mixed show and concert choir (Classic Connection), and the DeKalb Dynamix, a select group of students who perform for community events. The show choirs have been either state champions or state runners-up in nine of the last 11 years. Classic Connection was named one of America’s favorite show choirs by Parade magazine in 2011. Shelly has touched the lives of hundreds of high school students, inspired them to reach deep inside themselves to achieve excellence, and helped them develop skills and discipline that serve them well into their adult and professional lives. Many of her former students are working in the performing arts field all over the country. Shelly and her husband, Kent, invest time and energy far beyond what their job descriptions require in the futures of their students and the success of the programs.

The chamber said community business leaders can access the knowledge and experience of world-renowned leaders by attending Leadercast DeKalb. Last year, more than 130,000 leaders from 35 countries attended Leadercast. Now, in its 16th year, the full-day, experiential conference is on track to reach its largest audience to date.

Speakers for Leadercast include: Andy Stanley, leadership author and communicator; Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Laureate and founder of The Malala Fund; Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney animation studios; Seth Godin, a best-selling author; Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City from 1993-2001. Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, California; Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP AG; Cmdr. Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL commander and author; and Bill and Giuliana Rancic, co-hosts of Leadercast.

Speakers will address what it means to lead in such a way that create bold cultures, builds faithful employees and produces high achievement.

More than 200 people have registered to attend Leadercast DeKalb. Group discounts are available for groups of five or more. The registration deadline is April 30. For more information and tickets call the local chamber at 925-2100 or visit



Posted on April 21, 2015, in News. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think it would be safe to say that Shelly has touched the lives of “thousands” of students rather than “hundreds”. She is a shining example of what Fine Arts education is all about. Kudos to both her and Kent. Their dedication is amazing!

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