Scholars, Mentors, Teachers

Laurie Johnson

Dr. Laurie Johnson’s work as a mental health counselor and scholar has taken her to local disaster sites and to regions riven by strife around the world, including Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In countries where cultural and political conflicts have divided society, Dr. Johnson has lived and worked among the people, creating systems that foster understanding and integration. Closer to home, Dr. Johnson has served on Red Cross disaster response teams in the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy. All of these experiences richly enhance how she teaches the next generation of mental health professionals.

In Northern Ireland, where was the the Sheelagh Murnaghan Visiting Professor at Queens University in Belfast, to her time in Cyprus as a Fulbright scholar, to her most recent work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Johnson has worked to promote social healing in these ethnically- and politically-divided regions. Living in these countries for periods of up to one year during faculty leaves, her projects have been at the grassroots and governmental levels. That work included assisting schools in setting up an integrated education system across ethnic differences, training community leaders in conflict transformation principles and practices, and establishing ‘train the trainer’ models that teach these principles at the college and professional preparation levels. She has also helped develop cross-community networks in these areas that support reconciliation among ethnic groups and provide post-trauma mental health services.

"I'm constantly growing and learning. It keeps me vibrant in the field."

In the United States, Dr. Johnson is a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Response Mental Health Services Team, where her work focuses on providing counseling assistance for those affected by disaster and trauma. The day after the 9/11 terrorist attack, she was working in a church near Ground Zero, providing “psychological first aid” for first responders and others. During Hurricane Katrina, she was stationed in southwestern Louisiana, and in 2012, she worked in a shelter in Nassau Community College, helping those displaced by Superstorm Sandy.

In addition to her research and practice in these areas, Dr. Johnson’s experiences have informed and enhanced her teaching at Hofstra, where she was voted a Teacher of the Year in 2011. Innovative programs that she has developed include a course on disaster and trauma response for counselors, and teaching conflict transformation as part of Hofstra’s Study Abroad program. She earned her Ph.D. at Hofstra, where she has taught since 1989.