Alabama Academy of Honor


John D. Johns

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2013.

John D. Johns was born on February 8, 1952, in Gadsden, Alabama, the son of J. D. and Margaret Griffin Johns. He attended the University of Alabama where he graduated in 1974, with honors, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He was also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, president of the Jasons Honor Society, and president of the Kappa Alpha social fraternity. After graduating from the University of Alabama, Johns earned simultaneous degrees in law (J.D.) and business (M.B.A.) from Harvard in 1978.

Upon graduation from Harvard, Johns returned to Alabama and joined the firm of Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O'Neal, where he rose to the rank of partner in 1984. He became a founding partner of the law firm Maynard Cooper & Gale in 1984 and worked there until 1988 when he left to become Vice President and General Counsel of Sonat, Inc. In 1993, he was appointed Vice President and CFO of Protective Life Insurance Company. He became President and COO in 1996 and President and CEO in 2002. In 2003, Johns became Chairman, President, and CEO, titles he continues to hold today. During Johns' eleven-year tenure as CEO of Protective, the Company's annual net income has increased from $103 million to $302 million and assets have grown from $19 billion to $57 billion.

Johns' leadership and ability have been recognized in Alabama in the enormous number of business, civic, and cultural organizations he has led or is leading. This is also true at the national level, where he serves as a member of the executive committee of the prestigious Financial Services Roundtable. He is also currently a member of the executive committee and is chair-elect of the American Council of Life Insurance, the national trade association for the life insurance industry.

In a remarkable record of community service, Johns has served on numerous boards, including: the Altamont School, Birmingham Southern College, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Business Alliance (former chairman), the Business Council of Alabama (former chairman), the Board of Advisors for the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama, the Central Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America (former chairman), the Coalition for Regional Transportation, the Community Foundation, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the Entrepreneurial Center, Leadership Alabama, the McWane Foundation, the President's Advisory Council of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Region 2020, the President's Cabinet of the University of Alabama, and the United Negro College Fund. He recently agreed to serve as co-chair of UAB's next five-year capital campaign.

His lifetime achievements represent the highest standards of both public service and professional excellence. While establishing a highly successful career based on strong personal tenets of integrity and trust, he has earned a reputation for always giving generously to his community, his state, and the nation. When there is tough work to be done, he can be depended on to roll up his sleeves immediately and work collaboratively to solve problems and accomplish public service miracles. Energetic and visionary, Johns always asks incisive questions: "What will it take to make Alabama achieve its full potential, and how can we get there?" His business leadership in building on the heritage of Protective Life and in seeing the company through the financial crisis of the last six years has been a demonstration again of his remarkable leadership. In any review of rosters of volunteer leaders who have helped the state of Alabama grow and prosper over the last forty years, Johns' name appears time and again. Dedicated to educational and cultural organizations that serve his fellow citizens, he gives generously of his time and resources. He is truly one of Alabama's great citizens.

Johns is married to Dr. Nancy Dunlap Johns. They have two children -- Anna Katharine Johns and James Dixon Johns.