More than 21 years of Excellence

  • November 30, 2021

A photo of Andrea (Cookie) Johnson. She stands in front of a wooden wall smiling broadly. She in an older Black woman with greying short hair who is wearing a layered green top.

En EspaƱol

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is proud to celebrate the friendship and contributions of a dedicated employee of almost 22 years as she steps into a new chapter of her life. Ms. Andrea Johnson, better known as Ms. Cookie, will be retiring from DRT on December 31, 2021. Though the DRT staff are all sad to see her go, we are also thrilled for her next chapter. 

When Ms. Cookie joined the agency, she had already lived a life full of personal and professional adventures. From becoming a Teen beauty, to a television personality and talk show host, to a civil rights activist – her life had already been an exciting adventure when she joined DRT. She brought all she learned in those experiences, plus her vast knowledge of corporate administration, into her work at DRT. For more than two decades, she shared her undeniable talent with her colleagues and DRT’s clients. 

Ms. Cookie is described by her peers as joyful, welcoming, supportive, dependable, encouraging, and so much more. DRT’s Executive Director, Lisa Primm characterizes her as “the ambassador of goodwill. She radiates warmth and brings comfort to people that she encounters.” Her warm presence sets the tone for a welcoming and collaborative work environment. Even during challenging times in the agency, Cookie never seemed flustered. Instead, she stayed calm and focused on lifting people up, reminding them of all the things to be grateful for. “Our agency would not be what it is today without Cookie’s contributions,” said Lisa Primm. “We are so grateful for her service.”

A colleague and friend from West Tennessee expressed a sentiment that was echoed by many other colleagues: “Loved by all, yet fierce in her own right, Ms. Cookie is a phenomenal woman. Poised and beautiful, she is someone I was always and will continue to be in awe of.” 

The admiration and love for Ms. Cookie abounds among her co-workers: 

“I cherish her handwriting, and it has touched me!” 

“Cookie is just so good at keeping us all on track and making sure nothing falls through the cracks.”

“Cookie is a valuable gem!”

“At the risk of sounding inappropriate, I just think she is exquisitely beautiful.”

Ms. Cookie’s eye for detail, diligence, and high-quality work has served DRT for many years. She has witnessed the agency change through two Executive Directors, three names, and several major organizational restructurings. By the time the agency became Disability Rights Tennessee, Ms. Cookie was contemplating retirement. She explained, “But my loyalty to the agency wouldn’t let me leave.” When asked about what she would like people to remember about her, Ms. Cookie said: “I hope they say that I was dedicated. Regardless of some hurdles, I stuck it out.” She added: “We’ve come a long way from twenty years ago.” 

Reflecting on her retirement Ms. Cookie shared, “I’m going to miss my DRT family, friends/co-workers. They all in their special ways made this final journey worth it for me.” And Cookie has made all the DRT staff members’ journeys' special too. 

We are grateful for Ms. Cookie’s service, and she will be very missed. Her legacy of welcome and inclusion will carry us forward for years to come. 

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal advocacy services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

Middle Tennessee (Admin Office)

2 International Plaza, Suite 825
Nashville, TN 37217

Phone: 615-298-1080
Fax: 615-298-2046

East Tennessee

9050 Executive Park Drive, Suite 101-B
Knoxville, TN 37923

Phone: 865-670-2944
Fax: 865-470-7028

West Tennessee

1407 Union Avenue, Suite 1015
Memphis, TN 38104

Phone: 901-458-6013
Fax: 901-249-2933