Meet the Open Hearts Team

Dr. Catherina Johnson

Interim Secretary & Treasurer

Arizona Dept of Education

Dr. Catharina M. Johnson is an adjunct professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University. She teaches Psychology courses in the undergraduate and master’s level. Catharina is a recent retiree from the juvenile justice system, having worked with Maricopa County Juvenile Probation department for over 26 years. She has a passion for helping kids and families navigate the justice system, which often overlaps with the behavioral and mental healthcare systems. Catharina has also worked for over 20 years on issues of diversity, fairness, disparate treatment for children of color, and equal access to treatment for people of color. She’s a longtime member of the planning committee for the annual Cesar Chavez Conference and held membership in the Commission on Diversity, Equality, and Justice (CODEJ) in the judiciary of the Supreme Court of AZ.

Additionally, Catharina served as the chair or co-chair for many years on the Diversity Committee and Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) committee in the probation department. During her career in probation, she held many supervisory positions including supervisor of the Youth Recovery Academy (the county’s in-house treatment center which was an in-patient hospital/rehabilitation center), supervisor of Drug Court, supervisor of the Treatment Unit, supervisor of JIPS (Juvenile Intensive Probation Services), and supervisor of Standard and Diversion units at the West Valley Community Justice Center. Her most recent position with the county was as the Safety Supervisor for the department.

Catharina’s expertise lies in issues of safety and wellness, having most recently served as the co-coordinator for the Peer Support group in the Critical Incident Stress Management team in her former department. Additionally, she is a recent graduate of FEMA’s National Emergency Management Basic Academy in Emmitsburg. As a lifelong student, Catharina has three degrees from Arizona universities; a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Human Relations from Northern Arizona University, and a doctorate in general Psychology from Grand Canyon University. Born of a German mother and Mexican American father, she speaks German and Spanish fluently. In her off-time, Catharina loves to travel and attend sporting events with family and friends.