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Johnson was born in the Philippines, the daughter of a Filipino mother and a Swedish American father. Johnson graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and minors in political science, history and English.
Johnson started her career as a reporter and anchor in Providence, Rhode Island, for WPRI. She joined MSNBC in 2005 working as an anchor of NBC's Early Today and First Look on MSNBC, an NBC affiliate; she was also one of the alternating news anchors on NBC's Weekend Today. She announced on Early Today that October 20, 2006, was her last day and that she would be moving on.. This was the same week that NBC Universal announced that it would cut 700 jobs.
She joined WCBS-TV in November 2006 as co-anchor of the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts alongside Chris Wragge, the station's former sports director. In June 2007 she and Wragge replaced Dana Tyler and Jim Rosenfield on the 11 p.m. newscast, with Tyler and Rosenfield taking the noon newscast.
Johnson resides in New Jersey with her husband Steve, daughter Ava (born May 2002), and son Burke (born March 2007).