Debra Whelan Johnson is an experienced business operations executive, financial advisor, lawyer, and professor. She currently runs Allied Financial Advisors with her business partner Randy Hermann, where they aim to provide financial and business management assistance to professionals and companies in the entertainment and film industries.
Debra earned a B.A from Howard University after studying business and communications, and received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She started her career as an associate in the Corporate Tax Department of law firm Luce Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, and soon after began teaching as a college professor, becoming the Director of the Graduate Tax Program at the University of San Diego School of Law and a Distinguished Professor of Law at Whittier Law School. Debra Whelan Johnson’s writings as a professor have been published in Notre Dame Law Review, Los Angeles Daily Journal, The California Tax Lawyer, and more.
Debra has worked in business management for nearly a decade, overseeing asset acquisitions and business operations, managing real and intangible property, and structuring the related debt and equity financing. In particular, Debra Whelan Johnson’s focus has been on providing her services to notable entertainment industry professionals. In this capacity, she has coordinated the business planning, financing, and operations for clients in areas including cosmetics, beverages, clothing, music, Blu-ray, DVD, and home video.
She has also provided due diligence and led capital initiatives for individual and fund investments. Debra has been involved in all aspects of operations related to the development and distribution of motion pictures by formulating and implementing financing structures, budgeting, greenlight analysis, film exploitation and distribution, managing operating systems and leading strategic financial initiatives for independent film companies.
Debra Whelan Johnson’s experience in entertainment allowed her to meet Randy Hermann, a veteran of entertainment finance, in 2012. They decided to take their complementary skill sets and build a business based on what they do best, namely their ability to execute and manage financial operations for professionals and companies in the entertainment and film industry. This led to the creation of Allied Financial Advisors, where they help industry professionals and companies build their businesses or invest in entertainment-related projects.
Moving forward with Allied Financial Advisors, Debra Whelan Johnson will continue to establish partnerships with entertainment investors, producers, distributors and more. She hopes that Allied Financial can move out from the role of an advisor to a principal, using her and Randy’s combined expertise in order to help structure, finance, and manage a wide range of projects.
Throughout her career, Debra Whelan Johnson has also dedicated herself to various philanthropic causes that help to improve social and economic opportunity. Her passion for philanthropy focuses on building human capital, supporting areas such as financial literacy, medical and food access, and microlending. She is currently a member of the Brain Advisory Board for The Brain Trust Campaign at Cedars Sinai, where she has helped raise millions of dollars to support finding solutions to brain disorders and injuries. Debra also funds over 100 ongoing microloans through Kiva, and supports food initiatives such as World Kitchen and Food for the Poor.
In her professional philanthropy, Debra Whelan Johnson is a passionate supporter of women’s initiatives. She is a member of 37 Angels, a community of women investors, where she makes microloans to help women. She is also a member of Visionary Women, a non-profit dedicated to empowering women to achieve their full potential.