One minute with LaDrena “Drena” Johnson, division administrator

Drena Johnson

Do you prefer LaDrena or Drena?

I prefer Drena, pronounced Dree-nah. LaDrena is more formal.

How long have you been with Fermilab?

I joined the Fermilab family in April 2018, and with my first anniversary right around the corner, I must say it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer. Thinking back, my journey to Fermilab began long before I realized. Math was my favorite subject growing up, with science as a close second. Combining my favorites, I decided on a mechanical engineering major with a math minor freshman year, and by sophomore year I was questioning that decision. I got the answer in the form of a statistics and dynamics course. Let’s just say I made it out alive and never looked back. Remaining true to my love of numbers, I pursued an accounting degree. Despite rerouting my educational path, I somehow ended up exactly where the universe wanted me to be – at Fermilab in the company of engineers and scientists.

What is your role here at Fermilab?

I serve as division administrator for the Applied Physics and Superconducting Technology Division. My role has a dual function, supporting the chief technology officer, who is also the division head, as well as the deputy division head, while simultaneously managing the division’s Administrative Support Group. The position itself is a perfect fit because I’m naturally a supportive person, and when it comes to leadership, I enjoy cultivating strengths and helping develop unused potential.

Talk about your involvement with the African American/Black Lab Resource Group here at Fermilab.

The African American/Black Lab Resource Group focuses on raising awareness about Fermilab’s mission within black and brown communities. We are a fairly new organization, so we look forward to promoting internal networking opportunities in addition to offering external workshops and seminars for future generations.

As part of our initiative, I recently reached out to Trinity High School, a college prep school for girls and my alma mater, about potential student internships. It is extremely important to also encourage women in STEM as we further promote Fermilab’s diversity and inclusion goals.

When you aren’t at Fermilab, what do you like to do?

I truly believe in a healthy work-life balance, so most of my time outside work is spent traveling or enjoying the arts: music, film, comedy and dance. If I had to pick one thing I love most, I’d go with music. There’s just nothing like live music, especially R&B. I don’t play any instruments, but I do sing in my car, and I’m always game for karaoke!

Along with the music comes traveling. Every year I try to plan a few small trips for music festivals and at least one big trip somewhere I’ve never been. This summer I’ll be exploring Alaska, and I’m really excited because it’s outside my comfort zone. I lean more toward warmer climates like Hawaii, Aruba and Cancun, which are my favorites so far. From what other travelers have shared, Alaska is pretty amazing, and I look forward to the experience.