Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist
Geri Yang-Johnson is recognized as the College of Social Sciences’ Top Dog Outstanding Alumni. Yang-Johnson graduated with a B.A. in Women’s Studies in 2009, and is now Vice President and Community Relations Senior Consultant for Wells Fargo, where she implements Wells Fargo’s community and economic development programs in Central California and represents Wells Fargo in all aspects of community outreach. She also maintains the company’s Community Reinvestment Act initiatives that support underserved populations.
In her career, Yang-Johnson utilizes her degree in Women’s Studies and her passion for gender equality. Through personal activism and her position at Wells Fargo, she funds women-owned businesses, careers, and youth leadership, and supports women in disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Yang-Johnson was a program officer for Central Valley Community Foundation, where she empowered underserved communities and strengthened the capacity of nonprofits.
In 2018, Yang-Johnson founded the Mala Scholarship Fund with the Central California Asian Pacific Women to support first-generation Asian Pacific Islander students in their pursuit of higher education. As a member of The California Wellness Foundation’s Board of Directors, Yang-Johnson championed the two largest gifts in the history of the Women’s Studies Program (now the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies) from The California Wellness Foundation in 2018 and 2019.
Department Chair Dr. Kathryn Forbes said Yang-Johnson’s commitment to elevating the work of others led her to her current profession.
“In this professional capacity, Geri has consistently toggled back and forth between knowledge developed in academic settings and in community ones. She works to ensure that economic development projects reflect community priorities and build the political capacities of local organizations,” Dr. Forbes said.
Yang-Johnson is recognized for her 17 years of commitment to advocacy and philanthropy in the central valley and throughout California. Previously she was a Bankers Without Borders Global Fellow and a 2014 Funders Network PLACES Fellow. With Wells Fargo she has served on the board of the Women’s Foundation of California and the statewide steering committee for Smart Growth California.
Yang-Johnson currently serves on the boards of Fresno Community Development Financial Institution, Reading and Beyond, Access Plus Capital, Central California Asian Pacific Women, the Greater Fresno DRIVE Executive Committee, and on the loan committee for Feed the Hunger Foundation. She is working with the Women’s Studies program to plan the annual report to the community, as well as next year’s celebration of the program becoming a department after nearly 50 years.
“The Women’s Studies program helped me find my voice, but finding it is just the beginning. It’s what you do with it that really matters,” Yang-Johnson said.
The Top Dog Alumni Awards will be televised on ABC 30 at 7 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, April 17. It will also be live-streamed for those outside the Fresno area.