Joel's Journey

Joel has spoken before more than 2 million people in over 20 nations around the world...

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Dr. Joel Johnson


Joel Johnson is the President of Joel Johnson Inc. and founder of the Dark Horse Initiative. Dark Horse's vision is "every underdog an overcomer" and exists to "inspire underdogs to actualize their highest potential" through the Five Pillars of transformation: Faith, Friends, Family, Fitness, and Finances.


Joel was a professor at Belmont University, in Nashville, teaching master's-level courses in communication and leadership . Prior to this, Joel co-hosted Acquire the Fire (ATF) conferences for 12 years (nearly 200,000 people attend ATF events each year). Joel’s passion, communication prowess and sidesplitting humor make him one of the nation’s foremost speakers and authors.


Joel started speaking when he was 14. Since then, he has spoken before more than 2 million people in over 20 nations around the world. Additionally, Joel has traveled speaking with such bands as Switchfoot, Mercy Me, Fly Leaf, Amy Grant, Newsboys, Skillet, Leeland, Third Day, Super Chic(k), Tree 63, Petra, Gospel Gangstaz and Jeremy Camp.


As a teen, Joel surmounted the challenges brought about by poverty, a broken home, and abuse, his inspirational stories and teaching have helped thousands to find freedom from the wounds of a broken past.


Joel loves the local Church! He has served in his local church for almost 30 years. Some of his roles have included:  Campus Pastor,  Global Executive Pastor of Student Ministries, College Pastor, Student Pastor and South Eastern University Site Director.

Joel is also an avid adventurer. A few of his adventures include: navigating down the Amazon River, living with a native tribe in the Darien Jungle of Panama, partaking in many traditional Maori Hangi feasts and ceremonies in New Zealand, playing music throughout the war torn city of Beirut, trekking to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome and Pike’s Peak, walking the streets of Hanoi, riding an elephant through the jungle of Chiang Mia and overseeing the remodeling of an orphanage playground in Chiang Rai, Thailand.


Joel underwent two years of ministry training at Abundant Life School of Ministry, received a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Tyler and a Juris Doctorate from Texas A&M University School of Law.*


He has authored three books: The Divine Matchmaker, Walking Like Zombies and Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization.


Joel is also married to a dynamic author and speaker, Casey Johnson.


Joel, Casey, their son, Lincoln, and daughter, Reagan, live in Charlotte, NC.



* formerly, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law