Earning the dream educator role

Educator Lisa Johnson

As a leader in higher education, Lisa Johnson, CDA, Ed.D., of North Carolina strives to set an example for her dental assisting students by continuing to maintain DANB certification, which she’s held since 2011. 

In fact, Dr. Johnson credits DANB for helping her take her career to new heights. 

“I started out as an office-trained dental assistant when I was 15 years old before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where I completed an associate of arts and sciences degree in dental assisting at Community College of the Air Force in 2001,” Dr. Johnson shares. 

Building this educational foundation was just the beginning. 

Dr. Johnson went on to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in dental hygiene from St. Petersburg College in Florida in 2008; a Master of Science in dental hygiene education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 (around the time she earned DANB certification); and in 2020, a Doctor of Education in higher education administration from Concordia University-Portland. 

For Dr. Johnson, the importance of education — and DANB certification — to professional development and success is clear. “I’m proud to hold DANB certification, because this accomplishment definitely sets you apart as a professional who is a lifelong learner,” she elaborates. “Without obtaining DANB CDA certification, and completing the continuing education required to maintain it, I would not be where I am in my career today.” 

Since working as a dental assistant in the clinical setting — which she sometimes now does in a volunteer capacity — Dr. Johnson has transitioned into working predominantly in higher education. Her career with Central Carolina Community College began in August 2008, in roles including a dental programs faculty member and chair of the college’s Allied Health Sciences department. She then served as Dean of Health Sciences and Human Services at Central Carolina Community College from May 2014 through March 2021, when Dr. Johnson assumed the role of Vice President of Instruction/Chief Academic Officer at Alamance Community College — a “dream come true,” she says. 

“I was excited to join the amazing team at Alamance Community College, who do phenomenal work to support one another, so we can support and empower students to achieve their dreams and find success,” she shares. 

Specifically, through her current role, Dr. Johnson works with students enrolled in a number of programs, including in the dental assisting program. This isn’t a responsibility that Dr. Johnson takes lightly. 

In fact, as a DANB certificant, she makes it a point to highlight the importance of earning and maintaining certification among her dental assisting students. 

“I want them to know the value of becoming DANB certified and what DANB has to offer,” Dr. Johnson elaborates. “A DANB certificant is able bring to their role the professional development and knowledge that’s necessary to improve their practice, and the care that patients receive in the practice. 

“I love both working in a clinical setting and teaching, but teaching has allowed me to help influence the next generation of dental assistants and encourage them to prioritize holding DANB certification. 

“I’m grateful for the role that DANB has played in helping me create my future, plus impact the future of other dental professionals,” Dr. Johnson adds. “I’m truly appreciative, and I hope to highlight for DANB CDA certificants everywhere that the sky is the limit when you hold DANB certification.”