William R. Johnson is the retired Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the H. J. Heinz Company. Mr. Johnson became President and Chief Operating Officer of Heinz in June 1996, and was appointed President and CEO in December 1997 officially assuming the role in April 1998. He was named Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer in September 2000, becoming only the 5th in the company’s 144 years.
An active supporter of community organizations, he has served as a member of the national Athena Awards committee, chaired the 2001 annual campaign for the United Way of Western Pennsylvania, co-chaired the capital campaign in 2009 to raise funds for the new Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh, and chaired numerous local events including the 2004 Pittsburgh Cultural Trust gala event. In 2006, he received the inaugural Global Visionary Award from Helen Keller International for Heinz’s micronutrient program for combating childhood anemia. He also received the Marco Polo Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Chinese government on foreign business leaders, for Heinz’s support of the development of the Chinese food industry. Mr. Johnson also commissioned a study on leadership that led to the 2010 publication of the book, “Preparing CEO’s for Success.” Proceeds from the book sales are donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc.
Mr. Johnson is a member of the Board of Directors of UPS (Lead Director) and PepsiCo. He is an Operating Partner with the private equity firm Advent International and serves as Chairman of Sovos Brands, an investment vehicle for food and beverage acquisitions, and as a director for Dawn Holdings, the parent company of Serta Simmons Bedding. Mr. Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas on October 26, 2007.
Mr. Johnson earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his MBA from the University of Texas. He and his wife, Susie, have two children as well as six grandchildren.