Sheila Johnson is widely known as the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and is the only African American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams—the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, and Washington Mystics. She is also founder and CEO of the Salamander Collection, whose portfolio includes the resort and spa in Middleburg, Virginia, a Forbes Five-Star-rated hospitality destination that draws influential guests to the region, promoting the local community, and employs many residents from our area.
In keeping with Sheila’s lifelong commitment to the arts, which began with her own training and performance as a concert violinist and later as a music teacher, her philanthropic work includes promoting arts and education to underserved communities. A strong believer in women’s empowerment, she has served as a global ambassador for CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that combats poverty around the world through the involvement of women. She also spearheaded the formation of WE Capital, a venture capital consortium dedicated to supporting and investing in female-led enterprises.
Sheila’s tenure as a board member of the Sundance Film Festival and influence in the entertainment industry inspired her to establish a promising site for a new annual film festival. Founded in 2013 and featuring 18 films in its first year, the Middleburg Film Festival—now widely considered a darling of the festival circuit—comes back again this October with over 40 films on the program and an abundance of interest in its offerings, boosting the region’s cultural and commercial life with its influx of visitors.
A more recent Sheila initiative, this year’s third annual “Family Reunion” at Salamander Middleburg, brings together top chefs of color to prepare culinary delights of the African diaspora for a diverse audience. The multi-day event provides a venue for important discussions about the value of diversity in communities and the unique challenges that attend the ownership and management of minority businesses.