Robert L. Johnson

Founder and Chairman

The RLJ Companies, LLC

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Robert L. Johnson is the Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies, LLC, an innovative business network, and owns or holds interests in businesses operating in hotel real estate, private equity, 401k fintech services, automobile dealerships, content streaming, gaming and sports betting.


Prior to forming The RLJ Companies, Mr. Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET), the nation’s first Black-owned cable television network, which was acquired by Viacom in 2001. He continued to serve as chief executive officer of BET until 2006. Before founding BET in 1979, Mr. Johnson served as vice president of government relations for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.


Prior Professional Experience:

  • Founder and Chairman, The RLJ Companies, LLC – 2002-present
  • Founder and Chairman, Black Entertainment Television – 1979–2001; Chief Executive Officer, 2001–2006
  • Vice President – Government Relations, National Cable Television Association – 1976-1979

Other Directorships:

  • Currently, Mr. Johnson serves on the following boards: RLJ Lodging Trust; KB Home; Elevate Credit, Inc.; G-III Apparel Group, Ltd.; The Business Council; and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.


  • Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.



  • In July 2007, Mr. Johnson was named by USA Today as one of the 25 most influential business leaders of the past 25 years.