Michael Johnston

President and CEO, Gary Community Investments

Mike Johnston is a Colorado native who began his career as a teacher in rural Mississippi, which inspired him to write his acclaimed book, “In the Deep Heart’s Core.” He came home to Colorado to serve as the principal of three different schools, including one inside a juvenile prison and one that served students who lived in group homes under state custody. His third school, MESA, became the first school in Colorado history where 100 percent of seniors graduated from high school and 100 percent were admitted to a four-year college.

Mike served as a senior education policy advisor to Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and transition and was elected to two terms in the Colorado State Senate from 2009-2017. During his tenure, he passed over 100 bills with bipartisan support, including major reform measures on education, immigration, racial discrimination and rural economic development. Over the last two decades, Mike has led and founded numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations, including New Leaders, Urban Leaders Fellowship, America Achieves and Traverse LLC.

Mike is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Yale Law School. He lives with his wife Courtney, who is a Chief Deputy District Attorney in Denver, and their kids Emmet, 12, Seamus, 12, and Ava, 8.

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