Name: Donna Johnson-Klonsky

Major at Baruch College: BBA - English Literature
Graduation Year: 2003
School within Baruch College: Education
Company and Title: DJ Consulting Services, Inc. President & CEO

1. Tell us about your company and your role there.

DJ Consulting Services, Inc., located in East Fishkill, NY, is a consulting and coaching firm that serves small business owners, professions, and entrepreneurs. Since it’s inception, in 1995, the primary mission is to transform how we approach, process, and master change. Donna Johnson-Klonsky, MBA, PCC, President, is a consultant, coach, author, speaker, and trainer. She authored a decade-long monthly full-page business column for a prominent New York City magazine.

2. What made you interested in professional/personal development and what drives you in your current profession?

Threatened by the pervasive COVID-19, hovering around us like a dark black cloud prepared to unleash its fury, Donna hides under the umbrella of her home isolated, from husband and son. She made a vow, after her liver transplant, autoimmune hepatitis, that no matter how long she lived, it was up to her to design her destiny and help others master devastating change. That vow led her to search out and interview over 1,000 individuals who had experienced various changes, many of them life-altering. She studied their stories and published her initial research in a series of articles in the New York City magazine, Fashion Manuscript. Through her research, she became aware of specific recurring patterns within the change process…that highlighted the different stages and how to navigate through them successfully. Donna unlocked the elements inherent within any change and published her findings in the book she wrote in 2018, Aspects of Change: 9 Steps to Conquer Your Most Devastating Change, Develop Boundless Energy, and Create a Life You Love.

3. What were some unique challenges you faced in your professional career and how did you solve them?

I have personally had to wage war against an unexpected and devastating health challenge. In 2007, I was healthy. Two weeks later, I woke up from a coma, discovered that, with numbered days to live, the doctors had performed a liver transplant. Diagnosis - autoimmune hepatitis. Prognosis - 5-7 years average life expectancy. My life, dreams, and business came to a complete stop. 

I researched everything I could find on change, desperate for a method that could help me reclaim my life. Although there was a lot of information available offering suggestions on how I should handle the change, I couldn’t find anything that showed me where I was in the change process so that I could move forward. It was then that I realized a roadmap needed to be created to help guide people through their most devastating change.

I wrote the book so that anyone who has to navigate a life-altering event can do so without the sense of helplessness that can come with not having a guide and a roadmap.

4. How was your experience at Baruch like? How did Baruch impact your life and career?

Initially, my major was Elementary Education. I’ve always had a passion for helping and teaching others. After the birth of my oldest daughter, born with a hole in her heart and had open-heart surgery at six months, I left school to care for her. When I returned, the option to get a degree in Education was no longer available

During my initial studies at Baruch, I had discovered a love for reading and writing.  I switched my major to English Literature and was thrilled to learn about and relish the works of numerous, diverse authors who claimed my heart.  My time at Baruch stirred within my soul a desire that still nourishes me. Along with having written a book, I have published over five hundred articles and self-help techniques.  As a speaker, over ten thousand individuals, national and international audiences, have been inspired through my motivational presentations.

5. What is one of your favorite memories you have from your time at Baruch?

Before attending Baruch, most of my friendships were family, cultural, or neighborhood-based. At Baruch, there was a very diverse student body. I had an opportunity to develop a close relationship with a young lady of Asian background.  It reconfirmed my beliefs and satisfied my desires to experience the richness I felt was inherent within diversity if it was embraced within an open mind and heart.  That experience served as a springboard for the life I live now enriched with incredible and inspiring relationships.

6. What is some advice can you give to current Baruch Students and Alumni who are in job search stage?

PAM (Purpose, Audience, Message) is a self-help technique published in my book.

Purpose - Prepare with the end in mind. Role play different scenarios. Have others ask you the questions that make you uncomfortable. 

Audience -Before initial contacts have clarity on precisely which skills, experiences, or examples you will highlight to specific persons throughout the interviewing process.  

Message - Be courageous and share part of your story. Be prepared with a few professional situations where you surprised or disappointed yourself or learned something new. These stories should ignite a spark within you and provide the interviewer insight into who you are. 

7. What are your top 3 tips for students/alumni to practice and prepare for change?

1) Everything in life requires change. The change process has nine stages or aspects. Everyone can learn and implement the process to more efficiently and successfully navigate and master different changes.  Learn the change process.

2) Reality versus Possibility - Focus on the reality of what is happening, not what you think could happen. A balanced perspective on how a situation could impact us is necessary. If not, continual reflection on potential consequences will weaken your strength and ability to handle the eventual reality.

3) Realistic Expectations - Intermingled with difficult changes are usually circumstances that are beyond our control. Focus on what you can influence and avoid “should of/would of /could of” thoughts and statements. 

8. How can people contact you?

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 845-447-1037