Staff Spotlight — Daniel Johnson, Area Manager, Office of Facilities

Image of Daniel Johnson.

Daniel Johnson makes it his business, personally and professionally, to take care of people. For more than two years, he and his staff have done just that. As an area manager covering the Yale Health and Rose Center buildings, Daniel and his team kept and still keep those buildings disinfected so that patients and staff could feel safe, especially during the early months of the pandemic.

Born in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, Daniel migrated to the United States with his family when he was ten years old. Being in a new country was an adjustment for him, with a much colder climate and new schools. But Daniel thrived, graduating from Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES in Yorktown Heights, NY, with a technical certification in refrigeration and air conditioning and then obtained a refrigeration engineer operator’s license. His interest in building mechanics began when he worked as a security officer at Pitney Bowes, Inc. During the construction of the company’s headquarters in Stamford, CT, Daniel witnessed all the mechanicals being installed and was intrigued.

For the next 20-plus years, Daniel worked for several large businesses as a building engineer, chief operating engineer, and Facilities Manager. His career included stints at Cushman & Wakefield, Tyco Healthcare/U.S. Surgical Corporation, and Aramark at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. For each of those companies, Daniel managed their building operations, from the outdoor grounds to the interior This included common office space, data center, mechanical plant, research laboratories, a heliport, and even a surgical training center. At times, he maintained multiple sites and developed strategies for building equipment energy efficiencies and preventative maintenance—including setting up quality assurance programs while managing teams comprised of engineers, mechanics, and custodians.

A decade ago, with a young family and a long commute to Cambridge, MA, Daniel wanted a job closer to home. Yale University had not been on his radar, but as luck would have it, a facilities superintendent position at Sterling Memorial Library opened at the time, and he applied. Today, Daniel credits that decision as being “life-changing in a positive way” for him and his family.

During a recent chat, Daniel talked about the challenges of working during a pandemic, helping people, and family time.

What are you and your team working on?

In March 2020, I took over as area manager of the Yale Health building and Rose Center (which houses the Yale Police Department). I manage a staff of (25) custodians and one Superintendent. It was an unsettling time as we didn’t know how the pandemic would affect us. People were afraid to leave their homes however, my team worked tirelessly at these facilities keeping them clean and sanitized, ensuring customers and patients enter a safe environment. Over the past two years, so much has happened, but we continue to evolve positively.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

When we were still living in Jamaica, my mom and dad, use to take my brothers, sisters and I to Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. It has a beautiful beach and waterfalls, and we’d meet up with other family members and cousins. It was always a happy and fun time.

What is your favorite Yale memory?

When I started working at Yale, my wife and I were expecting our third child. She received wonderful care from the healthcare providers at Yale Health. When our daughter was born, it was a happy, joyous time for our family. It was extra special because my daughter and my wife came through the delivery safe and healthy. I attribute that to the care she received throughout her pregnancy—for that, I’m very grateful.

What are some of the challenges and rewards of working at Yale?

Working through the pandemic has been the most challenging event of my entire career. Dealing with the unknown, that was difficult. We frequently had to adjust our procedures and implement new protocols and schedules. As we learned more about the virus, we did everything possible to ensure the safety of our team, customers and patients. As a result, our team was recognized for our efforts and received a Better Together Award, sponsored by the Partnership for Patient-Centered Care at Yale Health. That acknowledgement and appreciation gave the team a rewarding feeling for their efforts and dedication.

If you weren’t working at Yale, what would be your dream job?

I would enjoy doing home renovations. I would use that hobby to help the elderly or those who may need assistance. If I could do more to make a positive difference in a person’s life, whatever that takes. Offering your time and service to help others improve their living conditions. Such as home renovations repairs, clean yards, and other odd jobs that they may not be able to physically perform; can be rewarding not only for the receiver but also the giver.

What are you watching, reading, or listening to?

My wife and I conduct devotions with our children and watch virtual service. We then discuss it as a family to understand each person’s different perspectives. Our children’s interpretation and thought processes always fascinate me. Currently my wife and I have started reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. In it he writes, “We do not rise to the level of our goals, but we fall to the level of our systems.”