Tonya Johnson

2023 Recipient of the Sustainable Arts Fellowship

With more than 25 years of experience writing and editing for print magazines,newspapers, digital platforms, nonprofits, and corporate communications, Tonya Johnson launched her writing career in the late 90s – while she was also a stay-at-home mom – covering her favorite beats: people and business profiles, book reviews, and community news. As a former staff writer and editorial assistant for the award-winning local newspaper, The Item of Millburn And Short Hills, she won the 2012 New Jersey Press Association Better Newspaper Contest for her front page feature story, “Dad Was a Spy: Millburn native recalls father’s mysterious past.”

Flash forward to 2023, Tonya is a full time production editor for the Expert Panel team at, where she writes, edits, and manages content in collaboration with the thought leaders of Fast Company Executive Board, Forbes Human Resources Council and Forbes Business Development Council. Aside from her daily 9 to 5, she is determined to complete her first children’s picture book biography manuscript about the late award-winning playwright, August Wilson. The aspiring children’s picture book author is currently enrolled in the Storyteller Academy (SA) where she is learning what it will truly take to publish a book that children and their adults will read and support. 

She is currently having tons of fun engaging in the following live and on-demand classes, which are taught by award-winning children’s book authors and editors: Crafting Picture Book Stories, Picture Book Biographies, Writing Picture Book Manuscripts, Picture Book Wordsmith, Nonfiction Children’s Books, Writing Nature w/all five senses, and Illustrating with Collage. One of her favorite pastimes in this learning process is to also study classic and modern day picture book–favorites from cover to cover. In addition to being a member of SA, she participates in the DIYMFA platform and the Independent Book Author Experience for current and aspiring authors. She has attended numerous writing conferences over the years to enhance her knowledge and improve her craft. 

Prior to embracing her authentic career ambition in the writing and publishing industry, she graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1989 with an associates degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. After graduation, she moved to New York City where she worked and continued her education, studying magazine writing and publishing and newspaper journalism at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, and Baruch College. The McKeesport native grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and currently resides in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband, son and daughter. 

Follow Tonya Johnson on Instagram @mychildrensbookjourney