CSIS Welcomes Liz Royer Johnson and Mandisa Thomas

Anna Dausman
February 18, 2022

CSIS is thrilled to welcome two excellent new team members to the CSIS staff: Mandisa Thomas and Liz Royer Johnson. We asked Liz and Mandisa to share a little bit about their background, current work, and interests.


Tell us a bit about your background.

Liz: I’m originally from Central Pennsylvania and graduated from Haverford College with an English degree. Before coming to CSIS, I spent a year as a fellow with Quaker Voluntary Service, living in West Philadelphia in a Quaker intentional community. After that, I moved near Center City and worked as a dialogue and trainings facilitator for Interfaith Philadelphia. In college, I worked with high school students on writing and literature skills and was a program assistant at the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship.

Mandisa: I am Philly born and raised; however, I have lived in two different cities and abroad, but Philly has always had my heart. Previously I worked at the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia as an engagement representative, helping chamber members navigate their membership. Also, I coordinated the Young Professional Councils‘ volunteer projects and virtual/in-person volunteer fairs.

Before the Chamber, I worked in the natural foods industry at a marketing and sales brokerage. Since college, I have gravitated towards the social impact space and volunteerism. While at Howard University, I participated in Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans for three years in a row, volunteering at charter schools and community centers. Continuing to connect with communities around me, I have sat on non-profits boards such as (ULYP) Urban League Young Professionals of Pittsburgh as a Civic Engagement Chair, and Volunteering Untapped PHL as a Partnership co-chair.


What will you be doing at the Center for Social Impact Strategy?

Liz: I’ll be providing program support with a focus on finance and administration, helping students through the enrollment and payment processes, coordinating event logistics, and supporting students across the spectrum of CSIS programs.

Mandisa:  I’ll support CSIS programs, including our executive and residential programs, mainly focusing on the Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact. And I will work on the Center’s communications, marketing, and help with recruitment.


What are you most looking forward to working on at CSIS?

Liz: I’m excited to learn our financial and administrative systems, and to experience all the different kinds of programs CSIS has to offer!

Mandisa: I am looking forward to working with an excellent, passionate team, connecting with the students,  and see how they will use CSIS knowledge in their future endeavors. And learning more about social impact frameworks, broadening my knowledge.


Outside of work, what are your interests?

Liz: I love books, movies, and baking. I have strong opinions about story structure, character arcs, and book-to-movie adaptations.

Mandisa: I enjoy trying new recipes, brunching with friends, testing new trader joes products, traveling, visiting art galleries, exploring anything creative like live jazz, starting new interior design projects, and helping my mom and little sister at their plant shop, Plant&People.


How would your friends describe you?

Liz: Open-hearted, soft-spoken but with a goofy side.

Mandisa: A thoughtful friend who knows about new restaurants, fun activities, can gossip about the latest reality tv show, and put together a bomb trip itinerary.


What’s a piece of advice you’ve been given that you continue to use?

Liz: The second-best time is now.

Mandisa: Everybody’s path is different and unique. If your path is linear, you can still be successful.


What encouragement do you have for those out in the world who want to make a positive impact?

Liz: The world needs you! Even small actions can make a huge difference in aggregate.

Mandisa: Understand that setbacks might happen but being resilient will help you thrive and always keep your mission and purpose at the forefront.


What’s your go-to: 1) song? 2) hobby? 3) weekend adventure?

Liz: 1) Crush by Tessa Violet 2) Going to the movies 3) Hiking in the Wissahickon

Mandisa: I think I have a wonderful taste in music so I have a few go-to songs: “Be Your Girl,” by Kaytranada and Teedra Moses, “Don’t Let it Go to Your Head,” by Cleo Sol, “Find Your Way Back,” by Beyoncé, and “You’re the One,” by Kaytranada.

We’re grateful to Liz and Mandisa for taking the time to introduce themselves. Join us in welcoming them to the CSIS Global Community!