Whirlwind Johnson Foundation | Board of Directors
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Board of Directors

Jolynn Johnson Smith (she/her) | Granddaughter of Dr. Johnson


Jolynn Johnson Smith grew up in Washington, DC,  in a family of physicians, educators  and competitive tennis players.  Her first two years of college were spent in Nashville, TN, at Fisk University, where she was the only woman on the men’s tennis team. Jolynn graduated from Howard University with a masters degree in Mass Communication and a bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television.  In her early career, Jolynn worked in the communications industry for National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Washington, DC,  and radio stations in Los Angeles, CA.  Other corporate roles included Philip Morris, USA and GE/Genworth Financial in Richmond, VA.  Later Jolynn carved out a career in healthcare recruiting.  A senior talent acquisition role with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, prepared her for her current position with Duke Health Care System as a talent acquisition consultant.  Jolynn proudly oversees the Whirlwind Johnson Foundation, which her brother Lange started in 2015.  Sadly, Lange passed away in March 2022 before the announcement of the grant by the National Trust for the Historic Preservation.

Bobette Bland Banks (she/her)


Bobette Banks has been fortunate to spend her entire professional career in the communications field, working in television production, marketing and corporate communications, and most recently in communications consulting, providing strategic direction and communications support for government agencies, private industry, and nonprofits.  Her career includes several years at Fannie Mae in various communication roles, and she formerly worked as the Director of Communications for the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors®. She was also the first on-air host of the Virginia Lottery’s nightly drawing show. Bobette received her B.A. in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University and her M.A. in Public Communication from American University.


Steve Spokane (he/him)


In addition to his work with the Whirlwind Johnson Foundation, Steve is a member of the board of PORCH Communities, a grassroots hunger relief nonprofit that fights hunger and food insecurity by mobilizing and engaging neighborhoods and communities on a consistent basis. Steve is also a pro bono advisor with Executive Service Corps of the Triangle, providing education, consulting and capacity building services to local nonprofits. Steve joined the ESC board in 2022. Prior to retiring, Steve served in a variety of marketing leadership positions with McKesson Corporation and Change Healthcare. Steve earned a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and an MBA in marketing from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.


Rita Giles (she/her)

Rita G. Giles, is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita was educated in the Public Schools of Lynchburg, before attending the following colleges and universities of Virginia: Hampton (Institute) University, The College of William and Mary, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Rita has over 35 years’ experience as a public school educator, college instructor, counselor, and consultant. As an educator, she has worked with special needs and at-risk youth and providing academic instruction as an adjunct professor for numerous universities in the Washington Metropolitan area. In addition, Dr. Giles has served on numerous Boards and committees involving public and educational service; made a plethora of presentations at regional and national conferences, and is a recognized resource in the education field. Currently, she works as a consultant for a non-profit organization and teaches counseling and special needs classes on the graduate level. In her leisure, Dr. Giles is a passionate devoted tennis player where her skills are recognized as a nationally ranked senior women’s player.


Jill Roberts (she/her)

Jill W. Roberts, M.S. is a Western Montana–based freelance medical and scientific writer and tennis enthusiast who contributes her event planning and communications talents to the Foundation. As someone who learned tennis later in life, she became interested in supporting Dr. Johnson’s project when she learned that he also wanted everyone he met to learn to play tennis.

Evan Smith (they/him) | Great-Grandchild of Dr. Johnson

Evan serves on the Whirlwind Johnson Foundation (WJF) board to preserve the hall of fame legacy of their great-grandfather Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson. Outside of the board, Evan is the Founder and Creative Director of Reflectiv Partners LLC. Reflectiv designs strategies and systems to assist organizations through person-centered consulting services. Evan’s professional experiences encompass the areas of social security policy, arts and culture, LGBTQ+ community, and cannabis decriminalization. Evan is proud to serve on the board with his mother and looks forward to the day where his house, grounds, and court are fully made anew.

Lange Johnson (he/him) | Grandson of Dr. Johnson

b.1961 – d.2022
Lange Johnson was the grandson of Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson. A former nationally ranked junior tennis player, he played tennis professionally in 1983. In recent years, Johnson had been the Vice President of Operations at Direct Holdings Global, parent company to brands like Time Life, StarVista Live, Lifestyle Products Group and KitchenTek. Mr. Johnson had more than 30 years of executive leadership and business experience in the communications, entertainment, DRTV, fitness and non-profit sectors. He had a track record of streamlining and automating complex business processes, while delivering revenue uplift and bottom-line savings in the tens of millions. Sadly, Mr. Johnson passed away in early 2022.