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Jodi Johnson

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, mom

An Army veteran and successful entrepreneur, Jodi is committed to leaving a legacy of service. Her responsibility to country, community and family guides how she lives, and she wants to instill the same priorities in her children.

Jodi recalls the day she put on a suit to return to work and her son asked, “Where are you going?”

In 2008, she had sold her first company six years after it launched—a provider of biometrics, communications, operational intelligence and engineering services to the government. After taking time off to spend with her family, she launched her second business in 2012. She leveraged her background in the Army to support the Department of Defense and the intelligence community with informational technology services and enterprise architecture solutions.

With her son clearly unfamiliar with the sight of his mother at work, Jodi said, “I wanted him to understand how important it is to have a work ethic and how good it feels when you contribute.”

Moreover, educating her sons about their wealth became a pressing need, especially as they grew into adulthood. “As each of my sons turned 18, we gave them a little bit of money of their own to help them develop good financial management skills,” she said. “It’s important to us to help them build the muscles and the experience to become good citizens.”

Jodi, who has a long-term relationship with her private wealth advisor (PWA), encouraged her sons to ask questions and have independent conversations with her PWA. They also participated in the Merrill Private Wealth Management Next Generation Bootcamp. “Going to the bootcamp helped put them in a community to ask questions and hear anecdotes from others,” she said.

Jodi has taken part in various educational sessions and workshops herself. She’s used the resources available to her to strengthen her family’s financial knowledge.

“One lesson that has been reinforced is that in a very high percentage of families, even very substantial wealth fails to last into a third generation. We want our grandchildren and great grandchildren to benefit from our legacy.”

She also realized she could educate her children about another aspect of responsibly managing wealth: philanthropy.

“Our sons had a certain amount of money that they could give away, but they had to research where they wanted it to go and why,” she said.

She wanted her sons to be truly invested. She also asked that they volunteer with the organizations they select. “It’s easy to write a check, but I want my sons to be involved,” she said. As a result, her family has become more strategic and, ultimately, more impactful in their giving.

Reflecting on the impact she would like to have on the world, she talks about citizenship, alluding to her proud Army background. “Whether a citizen of my home, my children’s school, the community, or even globally, I want to leave a legacy of service—for people to say, ‘She left the community better than she found it.’”

For Jodi, that includes doing the same for her children. “It is so important that we help our kids become the most responsible citizens they can be.”


Financial capital, meet intellectual capital