Born in 1963, Eugene Johnson is one of five children to Elizabeth-Ann, a unionist and lay preacher, and David Johnson, a factory worker at the Ford Motor Company. Johnson spent most of her formative life in Arcadia, a northern township of Gqeberha. In 1980 she left Arcadia High School to join the resistance movement against Apartheid.
Her entry into politics would come through the factory floor as a NAAWU shop steward at the tender age of 17 years. After just three years as a shop steward, Johnson would be elected as a national executive member of NAAWU and become the first female deputy president responsible for gender at NUMSA. Her tenure in South African national unionism would span over a decade.
In 1994, after leaving the factory floor and union politics, Johnson was employed as a creditors and accounts clerk at Auto Plastics. Over the next fifteen years she would build extensive experience in finance and corporate governance in the private sector. Johnson served as founding member of the Institute of Retirement Funds of South Africa, chaired the Board of Trustees of Auto Plastics and Faurecia Employees Provident Funds, and headed Auto Plastics and Faurecia’s Employment Equity and Skills Development Boards.
With the dawn of democracy, Johnson joined the ANC and became involved in the regional structures of the organisation. She served as branch chairperson of Ward 7 and cluster co-ordinator of ANC branches in the northern areas of Gqeberha. Between 2001 and 2009, Johnson served on the ANC Nelson Mandela Regional Executive Committee. In 2010 she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the South African National Civic Organisation and served in the ANC Eastern Cape Provincial Women's League from 2015 to 2018.
Johnson had an impressive stint in local and national government between 2005 and 2016. She was elected to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal Council in 2005. After leaving the council in 2010, Johnson would go on to join Statistics South Africa in its census program, and serve on the National Economic Development and Labour Council of South Africa. In 2016 she was an aid in the Office of the ANC Parliamentary Chief Whip.
Between 2017 and 2020, Johnson would put her experience in governance and administration to use as an entrepreneur, consultant and corporate governance expert. She would work as a consultant for the Swedish backed NGO, The Ubutyebi Trust, setting up a new human settlements program in Nelson Mandela Bay, and served as chairperson of the Donkin Hospital Board and the Gelvandale Frail Care Board.
Eugene Johnson has an impressive track record in public service and private sector leadership. However, she is often found highlighting her most important achievements as raising her three children, Davidene, Ryan and Almo, and being a grandmother to five grandchildren. She is also a devout Christian, deeply rooted in her religious teaching of justice for the poor, compassion for the vulnerable and service to the needy.