Nathalie Johnson launched her professional life as a dancer with the Ballet Theatre of the Virgin Islands, then spent a summer in New York City with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. And that, she says, was when she determined that becoming a surgeon might be easier than becoming a ballerina.
During her undergraduate work at Howard University, on through medical school at the University of Virginia, her training as a surgical oncologist at USC and while serving as Commissioner of Health for the United States Virgin Islands, Dr. Johnson won recognition as a pioneer spurring efforts to reform the ways in which U.S. healthcare is organized, provided and accessed.
Dr. Johnson moved to Oregon in 1992 armed with a passion for healing those diagnosed with breast cancer. Hailed as a national leader in the fields of breast cancer research and awareness, a prolific speaker, author and advocate, Dr. Johnson – herself a breast cancer survivor – is known to sing with, and for, her patients.
During her 30-year career at Legacy, Dr. Johnson has developed a nationally recognized, multi-specialty cancer care program. Under her leadership, Legacy Cancer Institute became the first cancer provider in the state to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer for over 15 years running placing it among the top programs in the country.
Contributing often to scientific literature, Dr. Johnson is active in a wide range of regional and national breast cancer research and healthcare initiatives. She is the past President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the past President of the North Pacific Surgical Association. In Oregon, she spearheads an initiative calling attention to the unconscious bias that conspires to place certain communities at disproportionate risk of worse health outcomes. She is deeply passionate about Health Equity. She and her husband Dr. William Johnson, the President of Moda Health, endowed The Denorval Unthank Lecture at Oregon Health & Science University to address statewide health inequities.
Dr. Johnson serves, or has served, on the Executive Committee of the OHSU Knight Legacy Health Cancer Collaborative, on the boards of the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Northwest Health Foundation, Susan G. Komen’s Oregon Affiliate, Medical Teams International, Care Oregon, The American Board of Surgery and the Oregon Medical Board. She is a member of the Society of Surgical Oncology, Western Surgical Association, American Society of Breast Surgeons, North Pacific and Pacific Coast Surgical Associations and the National Consortium of Breast Centers Clinical Programming Committee.
The couple have two children, Akhi an attorney in Washington DC and Noelani a senior at the University of Portland.
Dr. Johnson’s Recommended Resources
Knowledge is power. Breast360.org’s goal is to engage, educate and empower readers so that they will be better able to make informed decisions for their breast health care.
Breastcancer.org’s mission is to help people make sense of the complex medical and personal information about breast health and breast cancer, so they can make the best decisions for their lives.
American Cancer Society
The mission of the American Cancer Society is to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support, to ensure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.
FORCE (Facing Hereditary Cancer EMPOWERED)
FORCE is dedicated to providing up-to-date, expert-reviewed information and resources that help people make informed medical decisions. Their strong, supportive community of peers and professionals ensures no one must face hereditary cancer alone. FORCE serves as a champion, unifying the community and advocating for awareness, access to care, and better treatment and prevention options.