CHARLESTON -– Judge Gary L. Johnson is scheduled to receive the 2009 Commissioner's Award from the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families on Aprili 2 during the Seventeenth National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Atlanta.

The prestigious award is given each year to one person in each state and United States territory in honor of his or her significant contribution to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Johnson serves in the 28th Judicial Circuit of Nicholas County. He also is chairman of the West Virginia Court Improvement Program Oversight Board, which has led multiple initiatives to improve the child welfare system in West Virginia. The West Virginia Court Improvement program is a multidisciplinary group funded by the federal Administration for Children and Families and the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Johnson also is a member of the Commission to Study the Residential Placement of Children, which is led by West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Martha Walker.

"Judge Johnson deserves this award," said Jason Najmulski, commissioner of the Bureau for Children and Families within the DHHR. "His leadership and his willingness to work within the system to achieve positive outcomes will benefit the children of West Virginia – especially those children who need a little extra help and guidance – for years to come."

Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury agreed.

"The award acknowledges what we in West Virginia have long known, that Judge Johnson's absolute dedication to children, his common sense approach to issues, and his depth of knowledge of the law are unexcelled," Canterbury said. "He does all of us in the Court system proud. He's clearly one of our best."

In October, Johnson received the "Extra Mile Award" from the West Virginia Children's Justice Task Force. He also has been recognized by the Nicholas County Family Resource Network and Nicholas/Webster Foster Parent Association for his commitment to finding permanent, safe homes for abused and neglected children. He has been declared an "Angel in Adoption" by the United States Congress and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Johnson is the father of five children and resides with his wife, Susan, in Richwood.

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