Chris Johnson

Courage & Renewal Facilitator
Speaks English

Dr. Chris Johnson has nearly 30 years of experience in teaching, speaking, writing, leading workshops, and facilitating retreats with a wide range of audiences in higher education, civic and faith-based organizations, and the business, not-for-profit, and social change communities.  He is Founder and Principal of The Milkweed Group, LLC, whose work is to create and hold safe, courageous spaces that nourish inner wisdom, sharpen clarity of purpose, and nourish capacity to live and lead for a better world.


Previously, Chris was the founding Director of the Center for Vocational Reflection, Director for Vocation and Integrative Learning, and Associate Director of the Center for Servant Leadership at Gustavus Adolphus College, in Saint Peter, Minnesota, where he also taught courses in theology and ethics.


Chris works with state, regional, and national projects around issues of vocation, calling, and purpose; life transitions; leadership development; personal, social, and ecological sustainability; experiential learning & civic engagement; vital aging and the “3rd chapter of life”; and spirituality in life and work.  With his wife, Kim, he is co-founder of Prairie Oaks Institute, a nonprofit educational retreat center dedicated to nourishing expansive imagination, bold thinking, wise action, and cross-sector solutions to the unprecedented environmental and social challenges of our time.


Chris lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA).  He and Kim are the proud parents of three young-adult children.

Favorite quote

Instructions for Living: Pay Attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

Book Recommendation

A Prayer for Owen Meany

John Irving

Where I'm Finding Inspiration

These days I'm finding inspiration in places where beauty emerges in the midst of brokenness -- as in a flower pushing up through cracked pavement, or the shimmer of a resilient spirit in the face of challenge. I love a starry sky at night, music to soothe the soul or spark the imagination, a candle or a campfire in the darkness, the wash of waves along the shore.

What I Do For Fun, Rest, and Renewal

Meaningful conversations where you loose all track of time. Getting lost in a good book. Walking around the lake. Taking in a great performance of a play or a concert. Deeply listening to another person.

Organizations I've Worked With

Macalester College
Syracuse University
Hamilton College
Gustavus Adolphus College
Washington University
University of Northern Iowa
Pacific Lutheran University
Saint Paul Area Synod (ELCA)
Wartburg College
Hiram College
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Monarch Joint Venture
Prairie Oaks Institute
Minnesota Campus Compact
Carroll University
The Columbus Foundation (Ohio)
The Bush Foundation (Minnesota)
Council of Independent Colleges Network on Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE)
Leadership Plus
Iowa Campus Compact
Ursuline University
Southwest Minnesota Synod (ELCA)
The Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Augustana College (Illinois)
Grace Institute for Spiritual Formation
ARC Retreat Community
Holden Village
Augsburg University
Grandview University
Kirkridge Community College