English and Spanish alumnus organizes for social justice in Wooster and across the nation

Hans Johnson '92

Hans Johnson ’92 chose to attend The College of Wooster because the school gave him an opportunity to connect with a diverse student body and make a difference on campus. During his time at the College, he advocated for change across campus and Ohio as a whole, and after graduating, built a career that uses his skills and passion in the field of community organizing. Serving as president of Progressive Victory, a consultancy on advocacy strategy in the nonprofit sector, Johnson works to influence public policy and engage voters in the fields of human rights, environmental justice, and language access for non-English speakers. 

As Johnson considered what to major in at Wooster, he chose to explore the Spanish and English departments because, as he said, “literature, poetry, and the crafting of words held the power to ignite and shape people’s imaginations, as they had begun to do for me.” He also added a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies that he said, “turned on a light for exploring and critically examining the world with the brightest range of thinkers I met at the College.” Johnson applied these skills outside the classroom as a columnist for The Wooster Voice, Wooster’s student newspaper, where he used his platform and writing abilities to bring attention to issues such as fair housing and reproductive healthcare. He also was a leader of Lambda Wooster, a student organization dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ rights, and with his fellow students, brought a speaker to campus by piecing together funds and support from 11 different departments and organizations. “I learned how to budget, fund-raise, and create collaborations and co-sponsored events. I learned how to build organizations and enlist members,” he said.  

Johnson’s advocacy and organization skills remain necessary in his career as president of Progressive Victory, where he guides nonprofit leaders and coalitions on how to improve the lives of people in their communities. His work involves meeting with lawmakers, crafting op-eds and news alerts, raising money for social causes, and building relationships with donors and volunteers. An outcome he is particularly proud of occurred in 2014, when a coalition he managed in California passed the first statewide ban in the nation on throwaway plastic grocery bags. Since then, 10 other states have passed similar laws to reduce non-biodegradable plastic waste. “In this job, there’s paperwork. There are setbacks. Breakthroughs can take weeks, months, or even years of painstaking advocacy to achieve. It’s exhilarating work,” he said.  

Johnson also remains active in the Wooster community as an alumnus. In 2008, he established the John Plummer Memorial Scholarship for Contributing to a More Welcoming Campus for LGBTQ People, with support from more than 200 alumni, staff, faculty, and community members, to recognize a Wooster student who promotes a more open and respectful campus environment. He also spoke at Wooster’s Lavender Graduation in 2023, a ceremony that honors graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students for their strength and persistence in the face of adversity, as well as their achievements and contributions to the college.  

“Wooster afforded me opportunities to lay the groundwork for my career as a small business owner, leadership trainer, and advocacy strategist,” Johnson said. “The College provides students the opportunities for sustained interaction with diverse thinkers and doers, along with unhurried time to explore and integrate them in fresh, even revolutionary ways.” 

Photo provided by Johnson.

Posted in Alumni on October 24, 2023.

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Language, histories, literature, and cultures of Spanish-speaking countries

Major Minor


Students benefit from the small classes and access to faculty members in the small private liberal arts setting at Wooster.

Major Minor

Activism & Social Change

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