History of The Gold Medallion Foundation


Founded in January of 2001, The Gold Medallion Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 community based training and development organization.

The CEO and Founder, Brenda Joyce Johnson launched GMF with a passion to impact the lives of youth and families. With a professional background as a corporate image & etiquette consultant, as well as pageant coach and judge for the Miss North Carolina preliminaries for Miss America, she was amazed at the growth in confidence young women could acquire after a few months training. She shared her vision with five other individuals who made a commitment to launch the Gold Medallion Foundation and The School of Esther. Andrea Calloway, Ella Coleman, Alice Elder, Victoria Dunn and Jackie Crump were the key organizers.

Johnson also witnessed pregnant teens drop out of school with no money, education or father to help them rear their children. The absence of family values and common courtesies was also apparent. Out of a heart for community service and Christian love, the hallmark program of GMF, “The School of Esther” (now known as the S.O.E. Academy) was born.

It is the vision and goal of GMF to expand in other cities, states and countries. Target areas of focus for educational programming are: academic enrichment; social & career preparedness; positive male /female relationship building; health & wellness; travel and arts expressions.

The Gold Medallion Foundation is an educational community-based organization providing academic enrichment, mentoring, social skills development and career training for youth and adults. The Foundation imparts essential keys to confident living through faith-based programs designed to address the needs of individuals, schools, congregations, civic and community organizations.

Taught by dynamic professionals from various segments of the community, GMF classes inspire individuals to be the best they can be academically, socially and spiritually. Each class includes enrichment activities that require participatory learning. Emphasis is placed on relational skills that foster strong character development as well as courteous and respectful behavior.

Currently, focus areas of training and development have been youth programs including: Summer Enrichment Academy, after school programs and The S.O.E. Leadership Academy.
After 7 weeks of Saturday “Teenshops,” S.O.E. prepares teens ages 13-18 to lead with confidence. The concluding 8th session is a black tie formal dinner dance called the “Gala of Stars Grand Cotillion Ball.” This unforgettable event features a showcase ballroom dance performance by S.O.E. graduates and hosts an average of about 250 guests. Parents, community leaders and sponsors attend with high profile pageantry.

In the summer of 2008, GMF with the support of Job and Family Services and United Way funding, sponsored an 8-week summer enrichment program for TANF ready youth ages 10-14. Students participated in daily language arts, math enrichment; “Street Smarts”; basic computer classes, financial literacy, health, dance & physical education and entrepreneurship—which included the art of jewelry making which was sold to generate profit.

In June of 2006, The Gold Medallion Foundation partnered with Training by Design, LTD to provide a train-the-trainer program for aspiring S.O.E. training directors in New York and Chicago. Train the trainer educational events are available and provide opportunities for individuals who have the desire to duplicate GMF and S.O.E. programs in other communities and states.

In the Summer of 2009, GMF sponsored a Teens at Risk Parent /Teen Conference inviting the former screen and TV star of “Girlfriends,” Cee Cee Michaela to Columbus as the keynote speaker and workshop leader. Michaela is well known teen motivational speaker and advocate of abstinence training and making healthy life-choices. Partnering organizations were invited to speak on a Saturday “Parents’ Day” panel to provide educational resources and information. Community organizations represented as panelist were: Columbus Police Investigative Unit who spoke on online predators; Healthy Choices Abstinence Program; Directions for Youth & Families Counseling Services and a physician from Nationwide Children’s Hospital shared information on STD’s. The program was held at Berwick Elementary School.

On May 14, 2011 GMF celebrated 10 years serving the Columbus youth and families. President’s letters and recognitions were received from The Ohio Senate, the Oho House of Representatives and a Certificate of Recognition from The Mayor’s Office.

On June 16, 2004, Terron Banner, a 16-year-old graduate of The SOE Academy was nominated and recognized by U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) at a gala celebration in Washington, D.C. The sponsor of the event was Americas Promise—The Alliance for Youth.

Coming from a single parent home, Banner’s personal and academic profile had been written by Founder, Brenda Johnson and submitted by GMF Board of Trustees to local America’s Promise officials. Banner was one of 16 students selected from around the nation for leadership excellence and was awarded a $1200 scholarship. This honor was received in the company of national dignitaries such as Colon Powell, Senator Edward Kennedy and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Participation in the SOE Academy proved to be a time of preparation for Terron to help launch his future to paths of greatness.


  • GMF programs ascribe to five core concepts which provide an educational framework for teaching and training:
  • Cultivate a caring educational environment that will support the hopes, desires and dreams of underserved individuals to be all they can be as a productive citizens
  • Explore opportunities to enhance oral and written communication skills; become more financially literate and encourage exploration of the arts
  • Prepare individuals to be their social and business best by teaching basic principles of self respect, manners and etiquette
  • Introduce disciplined community leaders as teachers and mentors; those who model professional behavior, moral integrity and Christian character
  • Provide opportunities for travel domestically and abroad to expose individuals to cultural differences and viable career opportunities