Amma Johnson named director of Penn State Harrisburg LaunchBox

Amma Johnson
Credit: Amma Johnson

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Amma Johnson has been named director of the Harrisburg LaunchBox powered by Penn State. LaunchBox is a signature program of Invent Penn State, a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. The Harrisburg LaunchBox provides no-cost programming that supports innovative and entrepreneurial skill building for Penn State Harrisburg students, staff, and faculty and the greater South Central Pennsylvania community.

As the LaunchBox director, Johnson will build community-facing business and education collaborative programs and projects between the LaunchBox and local organizations. She will plan and implement a wide range of programs and events, and work with Penn State Harrisburg faculty to coordinate workshops or training programs to prepare student and local entrepreneurs for those events — such as startup weekends, business plan competitions and other events. She will also lead the project management of the Invent Penn State Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging work supporting entrepreneurial activities across the Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Network, a statewide collective of 21 innovation spaces embedded in Penn State campus communities.

Johnson will continue the work of the Harrisburg LaunchBox since it was founded in September 2015, which includes entrepreneurial success stories like Sharina Johnson and Carley Furlow. Johnson, a U.S. armed forces veteran, and founder and CEO of Arcana Recovery, recently raised $200,000 in seed funding for her app that supports individuals who are recovering from addictions. Johnson participated in the Idea TestLab in 2020 and won funding at the final pitch competition. Furlow, a Penn State Harrisburg alumna who recently sold her business #&b (Sharps and Flats), took first place at the LaunchBox’s winter 2021 Idea TestLab for her product "Bonded Bow" — which helps people with wrist and hand injuries continue to play their instruments

Johnson is an executive with a 20-year background in retail, economic development, small business advocacy and a passion for nonprofit work and community engagement. She earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing from Penn State. She began her career in merchandising, management and buying for department stores and later made a career move into the nonprofit sector in economic and community development. She spent over 15 years in community building from membership management and engagement to DEI programs to building entrepreneurship programs. An entrepreneur herself, she launched her own fashion and accessories brand and economic development consulting businesses. Johnson has been a Harrisburg resident for more than 20 years.

About Harrisburg LaunchBox

Harrisburg LaunchBox powered by Penn State provides early-stage startups with support and resources they need to build a sustainable and scalable business and a viable plan for growth. No-cost programs and services can include coworking space, accelerator programs, legal and intellectual property resources, and expert mentorships from Penn State’s extensive network. LaunchBox is open to everyone — community members and those affiliated with Penn State. Harrisburg LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and one of 21 innovation spaces located in Penn State campus communities across Pennsylvania.

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.