Ann Johnson was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. By the time she was three her father had learned to play the bagpipes as a birthday surprise for her Scottish grandfather. From then on the music was always present and Highland Dance lessons followed when she was six.
By the time she was 7 she began competing and enjoyed modest success. It was not until she went away to college with every intention of giving up Highland Dance that she discovered she was not ready to do that.
Ann continued to work at her dancing often without regular instruction while she attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Learning to be analytical and to practice effectively were valuable acquisitions that resulted in rewarding competitive successes on the west coast of the U.S. and Canada.
After graduation Ann taught 4th grade for two years in Tacoma before returning home to Portland in 1974 where she had been hired by the Hillsboro School District to teach 5th and eventually 6th grade.
In 1980, she attended the organizational meeting of FUSTA held at a Highland Dance conference in Las Vegas. It was easy to become enthusiastically involved in the efforts to preserve and promote Highland Dance in the U.S. Ann served as the Northwest Region’s first delegate and was elected FUSTA’s third president in 1984.
In 2003, shortly after retiring from a 31-year career as a classroom teacher, Ann was again elected FUSTA President becoming the first person to hold that office twice. The world of Highland Dance had changed considerably in the 20 years since she had last been president. It was a world made smaller by electronic communication and the ease of travel. FUSTA and the overseas affiliates of the SOBHD communicated more frequently and found that all were suffering from growing pains in one form or another.
She is credited with re-establishing harmonious relationships with the SOBHD. During Ann’s three terms as president she also oversaw the establishment of the FUSTA Hall of Fame and the academic scholarship for high school seniors. FUSTA’s Scottish representative to the SOBHD became a regular attendee at the Mid-Winter meeting; a move that did a great deal to enhance communication and trust between the two organizations. The FUSTA newsletter and ballot ‘went electronic’ and the vital positions of National Registrar and National Judges’ Committee Chairman became elected rather than appointed positions on the Board of Directors.
For over 30 years, she has been a volunteer and more recently Vice President Competition and on the executive committee of the Portland Highland Games Association.
Ann has been a member of SOBHD Adjudicators’ Panel since 1974 and is an SDTA Life Member and Examiner.
Her dance school in Portland has produced consistently well-trained dancers who have exhibited a love of dance and the true spirit of sportsmanship. Her students have won local and national championships, including the USIR, and medals and trophies at the major summer championships in Scotland.
It is her belief that all who participate in Highland Dance have an inherent responsibility to give back so that others can enjoy the wonderful experiences and opportunities it offers. The privilege of participation in Highland Dance and FUSTA has been a highlight in her life.
Please take a moment to post a comment. This is a space to share stories, show your appreciation and let Ann Johnson know how she may has impacted and enriched your experience with Highland dance.
On behalf of FUSTA and the Discover Scottish Dance efforts we’d like to to be the first to say “Thank You” to Ann Johnson for her honorable commitment and outstanding achievements that contributed to making the U.S.A. Highland dance community what it is today.