Executive Director

Jonathan Johnson Executive Director

Jonathan Johnson
Executive Director


Jonathan Johnson is the executive director of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture & the Arts, the seventh person to hold the post in the nearly 50-year history of state arts agency.

Jonathan “JJ” Johnson has been with the HSFCA since 1988, holding many positions within the agency including program manager, project manager, conservation coordinator and registrar for the Art in Public Places Program and director of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum.

A graduate of Kalani High School, Johnson has a B.A. degree in design with an emphasis on business administration from California Lutheran University.

“Jonathan has great experience working with the Hawai‘i art community, state government and the culture and arts staff,” said Barbara Saromines-Ganne, chair of the HSFCA commission. “Most importantly, he brings a great passion for the arts and this agency, as well as strong ideas for improving activities and processes in this new era.”

Johnson is well respected in the Hawai‘i arts and architecture community for managing the creation and installation of art at the UH Cancer Center, UH West O‘ahu, the UH Hawaiian Studies building, Kapolei and Hilo Judiciary, the Hawai‘i Convention Center and state airports on all islands, among many others.

“After 25 years at the state arts agency I am honored to accept this challenge,” Johnson said. “I believe I have the necessary relationships, the required training and substantial experience to help guide the agency to be significant to the people of Hawai‘i, reflecting a sense of place that will be admired, respected, and enjoyed by the community and all who visit for generations to come.”

Johnson managed restoration of the Tadashi Sato mosaic at the State Capitol rotunda, completed in 2009. He has overseen the artist-in-residence programs of several dozen Hawai‘i public schools. He was co-curator of ARchiTecture, Exploring Public Art in the Built Environment, a 2010-2011 exhibition at HiSAM and the Sculpture Garden at the Hawai‘i State Art Museum.

However, Johnson may be best known to the public for chairing the Hawai‘i Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission which conducted a very public process to design the coin that today represents Hawai‘i in the Fifty States Quarters Program.

A committee of foundation commissioners chose Johnson from a long list of in- and out-of-state applicants, with the assistance of the State Department of Human Resources.