The ceremony took place in the United States House of Representatives Rayburn House office building in the room that houses the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. From 2011-2018, Mrs. Johnson served on this committee as its first African American woman ranking member—the highest ranking Democrat on the panel when Republicans controlled that chamber. In January 2019, when Democrats took control of the House, she became the first African-American and woman to chair the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
The day’s ceremony began with welcome remarks from The Honorable Bart Gordon (Chair, House Committee on Science and Technology, 2007-2011) who also served as the afternoon’s Master of Ceremonies. Then remarks followed from The Honorable Frank Lucas (R-OK, and Ranking Member on the Committee), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), The Honorable Joyce Beatty (D-OH, and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus) and The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Letters of congratulations and appreciation were read from President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice President Kamala Harris. And video remarks from The Honorable Bill Nelson (NASA Administrator) and Dr. Daniel Podolsky (President, UT Southwestern Medical Center) were shared. Passionate remarks from fellow Texan Luci Baines Johnson (Daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson) ended the formal remarks.
All of the speakers talked of Congresswoman Johnson’s formidable reputation as a stateswoman who worked with both parties to get things done – a reputation earned during her more than 40 years in public service. She is recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 177 bills passed by the House and Senate and signed into law!
Following tearful remarks from Congresswoman Johnson, the portrait was revealed as members of her family pulled back the curtain. The room burst into applause. Her portrait will be the first of an African American woman to hang in the Committee room. The portrait was painted by the artist Ying-He Liu, who has successfully completed more than 300 commissions.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has been a longtime friend to the Society of Women Engineers and an invaluable ally in many shared causes. She has been a champion for the rights of women and girls to pursue both STEM education and STEM careers and has fought for equal access to STEM subjects and careers and ensuring that the pursuit of both is free of sexual harassment. Her support of SWE priorities, such as the STEM Opportunities Act and the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act, have been unwavering. She fought for their inclusion in the final version of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 that was signed by President Joe Biden this year—a crowning achievement for her impressive record.
In recognition “for significant contributions to sponsoring and supporting legislation to protect and advance women and girls in STEM”, SWE presented Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson with the FY22 SWE President’s Award FY22 SWE President’s Award. Female engineers nationwide are indebted to her for her support. She will be missed, and SWE was pleased and honored to be in attendance at her portrait unveiling.