Woman of the Quarter

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and Women in Business are excited to honor Karli Johnson, a National Speaker, Educator and Owner of Stories Speak Education, as our 2020 Woman of the Quarter. 

Karli Johnson

Woman of the Quarter Q&A

Q: Describe your business and what you do.

A: My mission is to prevent the bad and empower the good.

I travel the county sharing my expertise, stories, and experiences with trauma to prevent and advocate for sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse, bullying & harassment, and mental health awareness. I use a unique approach of humor and storytelling to support victims and survivors, while also sharing my skills through years of national public speaking to train and consult with businesses, organizations, and professionals who are looking to build their public speaking and communication skills or professions. 

Q: What do you love most about your work?

A: The people. After an event or school program or sometimes even months later, I’ll have an audience member reach out and share their story, often for the first time, and thank me for helping them find the courage to speak out and get help. That is why I do this work.

Q: What led you down the path of becoming an entrepreneur?

A: From a young age I was always a leader and businesswoman (hello Girl Scout cookies and band fundraising!). I’m not great at math or spelling or history, but my creative mind has been exploding with ideas since high school (i.e. when I won a scholarship for wearing duct tape to prom).

I’ve been privileged with strong role models and a supportive family and friends who encouraged me to take the risk and start my entrepreneurial career by launching my business in 2015 at 26.

Q: What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t ever let your age, upbringing, religion, skin color, sexuality – or, any man ever – stop you from speaking out and getting what you deserve. I’ve been told (threatened even) by countless men to stop my work and that I’d never be successful. But here I am at the age of 30 as TEDx, nationally recognized, six-figure speaker, winning this award. It’s surreal.

Q: Name someone in your life who inspires you and tell me why.

A: The women who raised me. My grandmas and mom are the perfect role models; strong women involved in their communities, businesses, and families. My mother worked third-shift for 15+ years so she could be there for us during the day and volunteer as my Girl Scout Leader, Room Mom, Church Teacher, etc. My Grandma Verlee owned her own Cakery. My Grandma Carol managed a team of women for 20+ years. All three taught me to speak my truth and stand up for what’s right – even when it’s hard.

Q: What other passions or hobbies do you have?

A: Let’s head over to Features and I’ll show you my amazing dance moves! HA. As a former high school poms girl and college mascot (Go NIU Huskies!) I love to dance. Sometimes it’s hard for me to separate my passions from my career but I’m also an advocate for public schools and libraries, along with an activist for gun control after I lost a friend during a 2008 shooting at NIU during my freshman year. When I’m not trying to save the world, I love brainstorming Halloween costumes and seeing movies.

Q: Aside from the Chamber, how do you stay connected within the Naperville community?

A: Volunteering is very important to me. I’m a volunteer for the Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage Speakers Bureau. As a dating violence survivor, I help share my story and the importance of our prevention education and crisis work provided in Naperville and our county. I also volunteer for Youth Outlook, Illinois’s first social service agency in Illinois dedicated solely to supporting LGBTQ+ youth.

Woman of the Quarter Bio

Karli Johnson

Stories Speak Education

Ambassador and Educator

From the mountains in Kodiak, Alaska to the cornfields in Davenport, Iowa, Karli Johnson travels the county inspiring change through speaking, education, training, storytelling, consulting, and fun. Her mission is simple: prevent the bad, empower the good – and have fun along the way.

Karli presents on the topics parents, teachers and bosses don’t (like to) talk about. As a nationwide speaker, educator and storyteller on violence prevention, mental health awareness, and empowerment development, not only does she “knows her stuff,” she’s lived it. As a survivor of trauma, Karli’s lived experiences resonate with children, teens, and adults throughout the county. With a focus on youth and professional trainings, she uses humor and audience participation to engage adolescents and adults with these challenging topics, as seen in her TEDx TALK, “I Pooped My Pants.” Mascot and B.A & M.S.Ed Graduate of Northern Illinois University, Karli also teaches Public Speaking and Professional Communication at Aurora University.

  • Imposter Syndrome and Inspire Motivation- Empathy Sales Training
  • Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, & Child Abuse
  • Bullying & Harassment
  • Mental Health Awareness
  • Youth, Female, & LGBT Empowerment
  • Small Business Entrepreneurship & Storytelling Branding
  • Public Speaking & Professional Communication