2013 Champion of Housing

DAHLIA “POBIE” JOHNSTON, Pobie, as she is known to her friends and colleagues, has been a friend to many in Stamford for over fifty years. She possesses an indomitable spirit which has guided her through a myriad of experiences.

Pobie personifies the “behind the scenes” worker; she is someone who believes that getting the job done is more important than taking the credit.  In our experience, this is a rare character trait. She will gladly ladle soup for the homeless, bake pies for a fundraiser or spend hours researching an issue.

As a Sergeant in the WAAC/WAC, she was among the first women to actively serve during wartime. The skills she learned during that time are still evident today and act as a reminder, to all of us, that serving our country is an honor and source of pride.  It is not just a matter of walking in parades or wearing red, white and blue; her love of country has propelled her into a life of service to our community. She never wavers in her beliefs that “one person can change the world.” Pobie is a shining example of citizenship at its most fundamental level.

An unrelenting sense of fair play is also an integral part of her character. Perhaps this is why she was constantly asked to serve on boards, such as the Attorney/Judicial Conduct Review Panel. Her ability to cut right to the heart of a matter is essential when such differing opinions are presented. A fewadditional examples of her service to Stamford include:  serving on the President of United Way, President of the YMCA, Vice President of Urban Affairs at SACIA, Executive Aide to Mayor Fred Lenz, volunteer with Stamford’s Urban Redevelopment Commission, and a member of four Stamford Charter Revision Commissions.

Her knowledge of the historical aspects of a subject is unmatched because she has been involved since the inception of so many causes. Her memory is extraordinary. For example: She can quote you song and verse about the background of housing in Stamford because she was one of the original defenders of low-income home ownership and rental assistance. She is one of the few who have stayed involved with this issue from its inception.  While others seem to tackle this challenge as a new endeavor; Pobie has never let it go. We can state categorically that housing has been a challenge for decades and Pobie has been an integral part of housing innovations and creative solutions for years. Pobie worked for New Neighborhoods for eighteen years, managing two housing facilities offering safe, affordable and comfortable apartments to our senior citizens.  Every day, she met the demands of these positions with poise, efficiency and dedication as well as a great sense of humor

At a time when most Americans would retire from active, public life, Pobie continues to answer the call. Decades of working on behalf of others has not muted her perception that much more needs to be done. She continues to move forward, unstoppable, to an unmet goal of justice for all. 

Pobie has triumphed over adversity and has celebrated many accomplishments. She truly deserves recognition for her continuous years of devoted and unparalleled commitment to so many.