• 57°

Counting on Tonya Johnson

Suffolk native Tonya Johnson continues to help people with their accounting needs. She does this through her own firm — and through her roles in government as the deputy chief financial officer and director of the Office of Financial Management for the Department of the Interior.

Johnson, 49, spoke about fond memories from her days at John F. Kennedy High School in a phone interview July 2. She graduated in the class of 1987 with a scholarship to Norfolk State University, thanks to her success in track. She said she still has some of the Suffolk News-Herald clippings from her track days.

She moved on from NSU to earn a Master of Accountancy with a forensic accounting concentration at Strayer University.

According to her biography page on doi.gov, she also has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland, a Bachelor of Science in accounting and is a graduate of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Senior Fellows.

Johnson’s passion for accounting goes back to her mother, who worked at a CPA firm, and those classes at John F. Kennedy High School.

“I’ve always loved accounting, even in school,” she said. “It hasn’t changed. I just grew up to do bigger numbers.”

In her current positions, Johnson serves as a primary adviser to the chief financial officer and the deputy assistant secretary.

According to doi.gov, she’s managed financial services, accounting, auditing and reporting operations totaling more than $1.2 trillion — and has been a “driving force” behind improved financial reporting, as well as refined methods for combating fraud.

“She has proven to be an expert who tackles complex and sensitive programs with confidence and efficiency,” according to doi.gov. “Ms. Johnson is a strategic scholar and coalition builder with strong leadership and managerial experience in building, developing and motivating teams.”

One of Johnson’s career highlights was when she formerly served as the associate chief financial officer of financial services.

She oversaw the Office of Personnel Management’s $1.1 trillion trust fund program and $1.2 billion revolving fund program, which encompasses programs for retirement and disability; active and retired federal employees’ health benefits; group life insurance; and the National Background Investigation Bureau.

Johnson was especially proud of helping to establish credit monitoring funding sources when the security breach at the Office of Personnel Management occurred several years ago. She collaborated with the Department of Defense and contractors to make sure that everyone impacted by the breach received official notices, and they were offered identity protection for 10 years.

“Just being able to see the impact that it had and being part of that … I think that was great,” she said.

Johnson also provides accounting assistance through her JL Accounting and Finance firm based in Maryland, where she resides. She said she works with contractors and small business owners while providing financial consulting throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

She said that she wants to continue to bring best practices to the Department of Interior moving forward. Through her firm, she wants to work with people and businesses, “making sure they understand their financial impact to the community and think of ways to give back to the community.”

She also said that she appreciates the support she’s received from her hometown over the years, especially how they rallied behind her in 2016 when she was sworn in, and that she hopes to one day retire and move back to her family in the Suffolk community.