The BEYA STEM Conference is set to take place from Feb. 11-13. For 35 years, the conference, produced by Career Communications Group, has been a leading event for professional development, networking, and providing a resource for minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
The annual event honors leaders that have made their mark in STEM-related industries. This year’s Black Engineer of the Year was pivotal in his company’s response to COVID-19. Appropriately enough, the theme for BEYA STEM 2021 is Stand Up. Step Up. Make the Change.
As executive vice president of global manufacturing, Gerald Johnson is responsible for the budget, safety, and performance of more than 100,000 employees in 129 manufacturing facilities on five continents. When production at GM was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, Johnson and his team worked to shift manufacturing and engineering resources to ventilators and mask production for frontline health workers.
GM’s Kokomo Plant was converted to a ventilator production facility in just 30 days, and the Warren, Michigan, transmission plant was converted to produce masks in 10 days. This was a light-speed changeover to the production of essential health care products that had to be designed, parts sourced globally, assembly processes developed and confirmed, quality control approved, employees/ volunteers hired and trained, and the startup of manufacturing. To date, GM has built more than 30,000 ventilators and manufactured 25 million masks globally to meet the needs of the country and world.
A vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion, Johnson is an inaugural member of GM’s Inclusion Advisory Board, which was announced on June 1, 2020. His bold video shared on social media offered essential guidance on having difficult conversations about racial equality in the workplace.
Yesterday, our Executive Vice President Gerald Johnson shared a moving message about his experiences as a Black American and his hope for a more just and inclusive future. Watch the full video and learn about the immediate actions we’re taking at: https://t.co/u9svBUg1qM pic.twitter.com/3M7fUPFt4f
— General Motors (@GM) June 19, 2020
“For 35 years the BEYA STEM Conference mission has been focused on opening doors of opportunity for STEM professionals,” said BEYA Chairman Tyrone Taborn, who is also CEO of Career Communications Group, publisher of the US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine. “A big part of that is acknowledging dynamic leaders like Johnson who show up and deliver in their positions but also continuing to pave a path towards a better future in STEM-related careers for Blacks and minority talent.”
Johnson is a member of the Board of Trustees at Kettering University, where he helps the engineers of tomorrow. He is also a volunteer mentor for TutorMate, which supports literacy learning for underserved school students.