Within a few minutes of talking to Gina Johnson, you’ll find yourself laughing at her spirited, candid banter and wry humor; however, Johnson will be the first to share that she endured many years of personal and professional hardships to get to the place where she is today—Associate Vice President and Associate Broker for The Norton Agency Commercial Group.
“What I have at this point are survival skills,” she says. “But I also have reached a point where I am very happy with my life and cannot imagine doing anything else.”
Growing up in Buckhead during the late 1960s, Johnson was on the cusp of monumental societal changes as more females began to enter the workforce. However, facing life as a single mom, Johnson found few career options other than being a waitress, but it was waiting tables where she found her big break into real estate.
“A customer looking for a new home asked me one day for advice on good neighborhoods, and being an Atlanta native, I began sharing my knowledge of the area,” Johnson says. “As I walked away, a gentleman at the next table said ‘You should be in real estate,’ and I thought ‘Why not’?”
Knowing that a typical 9-to-5 job was not for her, Johnson found the pace and structure of being a real estate agent perfect for her lifestyle but found only residential real estate welcoming to women. “I wanted to work in land development and commercial real estate, but was told women couldn’t sell land—it was definitely not a female-friendly profession at the time,” she says.
Johnson navigated around the negativity associated with her gender by working with male partners and proved the nay-sayers wrong by brokering some of the biggest “trophy” deals in the Atlanta area including the Mall of Georgia site in Gwinnett County, the Chattahoochee River Club in Forsyth County, and Walden Park in South Fulton County. All told, her land development projects have totaled more than 11,000 acres.
“Land has always been very interesting to me—I love the process of finding the perfect piece of property, and then finding the perfect client who will develop it in the best way,” she says. “But the process requires patience—it can take years to close a land deal—so you really have to enjoy the process and working through the issues because there is no instant gratification.”
After many years working for prestigious Atlanta-area firms and partnering with well-known brokers, Johnson joined The Norton Agency in 2009.
“Norton is a great fit for me, in part, because of the agency’s rich history of highly productive women led by Mrs. Norton who was the first female agent in the area,” Johnson says. “Norton provides an atmosphere that fosters teamwork and wonderful resources including top-notch tracking and research.”
Johnson spends her downtown sharing her skills as a certified American Canoe Association tandem and solo whitewater canoeing instructor, a sport she has enjoyed since the late 1980s. Many weekends, you will find Johnson and her husband on the banks of rivers throughout northeast Georgia and the Smokey Mountains in their pop-up trailer, ready to ride the rapids. And you can only imagine that Johnson views her canoeing excursions the same way she seems to view her life and career—with confidence, determination, and exuberance.