May 7, 2021

Celebrating 50 Years

Trendsetters: Today and Beyond

High-impact leaders who are making a difference in Florida and beyond -- but whose biggest contributions may be yet to come. The governors also make their picks.

Mike Vogel | 9/1/2008

Governor’s Choice
Garrett Johnson

Florida Trend asked Gov. Jeb Bush to write about a Floridian who’ll change the state in the coming years.

Garrett Johnson
Garrett Johnson
» “As governor for eight years, I had the privilege of traveling our diverse state and meeting many impressive young adults — brave soldiers and dedicated first responders, excelling students and gifted athletes, aspiring entrepreneurs and emerging leaders. I was even more fortunate to serve alongside some of these remarkable individuals in government.

Garrett Johnson was one of these fine young Floridians. While in college at Florida State University, Garrett joined the staff of our legislative affairs office, where he worked on a broad range of public policy and constituent issues.

Garrett’s a humble young man; we learned of his impressive accomplishments through accolades from others — graduated magna cum laude in three years, earned Academic All-American honors and led the Seminole track and field team to its highest NCAA finish in 31 years. In 2006, Garrett was one of only 32 students in the country selected as a Rhodes Scholar. The 24-year-old Tampa native is now finishing his master’s degree at Oxford. He competed over the summer for a spot on the Olympic shot put team but fell just short.

More notable than Garrett’s academic and athletic achievements is his commitment to serving others. Since first assisting Florida’s Haiti Advisory Group with its mission to improve dire economic and environmental conditions in the impoverished Caribbean nation, Garrett has devoted considerable time and energy to humanitarian work in Haiti. He’s a natural leader, and his volunteer efforts — ranging from raising awareness on challenges faced by the people of the country to raising funds to help the city of Pignon purchase an ambulance — are improving the quality of life for many Haitians.

The last decade taught me a lot about leadership. Leaders are not afraid to challenge the status quo. They embrace, and even enjoy, change. They don’t ask, “Why?” They ask, “Why not?” Leaders communicate clearly and consistently about what they are doing and why it is important. Most importantly, they stick with something. Success is not automatic, and it often doesn’t come easily. It takes hard work, determination and tenacity.

Garrett already embodies these leadership qualities. His character and commitment to excellence lend him tremendous potential to succeed on whatever path he chooses. Looking 50 years over the horizon, I am confident Garrett will shape Florida’s future — and we will be a better state because of it.”

— Gov. Jeb Bush (1999-2007)

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