Interview with Jeanne Johnson, President of the YWCA Princeton Area Newcomers and Friends

Categories: Blog

Jeanne joined YWCA Princeton Area Newcomers and Friends (also known as NCF) in 2009 after moving from Chicago, where she had a career in music performance, teaching and coaching. Her renewed love of art flourished in Princeton, as she is a docent at the Princeton University Art Museum and recent past chair of the docent association. She is currently President of Newcomers and leads a bi-monthly interest group which studies great artists in-depth.  

How did you first get involved with NCF?

Newcomers and Friends was introduced to me by a member only a few months after my husband and I relocated from Chicago. I am a Jersey girl, who spent many years in the Chicago area pursing my music career of performing and teaching, raising 3 sons, and enjoying everything that Chicago offers culturally. Coming back in close vicinity to NYC and one son and his family in Philadelphia, made this the perfect location. Little did I know how important my association with Newcomers and Friends would become, making many friends and connections to other organizations. 

What makes NCF unique?

Newcomers and Friends is a group of diverse women of culture, background and interests which are fostered through engagement in over 37 interest groups, ranging from physical to mental stimulation and growth. Hiking, book groups, sharing world trips, studying great artists, politics, enjoying bridge, and Broadway shows are just some of the wonderful ways in which members can develop long lasting friendships.

What’s your favorite Interest Group or monthly event?

My personal favorites are Global Insights and Great Artists which offer opportunities for me to both share and learn from others. Volunteering has been a way of life for me since becoming a mother. I have served as a room mother, board member for nursery schools and philanthropic boards of Infant Welfare and Chicago hospitals. Currently, I am a docent at the Princeton University Art Museum, the recent past docent chair, and I regularly present artists/artworks on Zoom for schools and community organizations. 

Members of NCF commemorate the end of the virtual ETS Firecracker 5K with a group photo at their own finish line!

Why is it important to get involved in your community? 

As president of Newcomers and Friends I am very proud of supporting the YWCA Princeton, which serves our community and offers exceptional early childhood education for 75 children. The welcoming staff and the community organizations they support are very appreciated by our members. We proudly support YWCA Princeton financially through our Holiday Gift Giving Program for the Burke Foundation Early Childhood Center, by participating in their fundraisers such as the YWCA Firecracker 5K and the upcoming Centennial Celebration, as well as our End of Year donation. The generosity of our newcomer community is a direct result of our admiration of the programs that YWCA Princeton offers. 

If you could invite any celebrity or historical figure to Friday with Friends, who would it be and why?

I would invite Jane Pauley, a woman I have admired since I first encountered her as a reporter, TV anchor and author. Throughout her life she has been open with her personal issues with the intent of helping others, and she is genuinely interested in promoting individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of others. Her philanthropy has blessed many in Indianapolis and NYC. I think she would be thrilled with the Newcomers and Friends members’ involvement in our community, and the many friendships developed through membership.