Jean Johnson

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Vice President for Moderator Development and Communications

Jean Johnson is a Senior Fellow and Special Adviser for Public Agenda. She has authored studies on education, families, religion, race relations, the federal budget, retirement, welfare, and health care. Most recently, she was the lead author for three Public Agenda/Kettering Foundation reports: “Don’t Count Us Out: How an Overreliance on Accountability Could Undermine the Public’s Confidence in Schools, Business, Government, and More,” “Will It Be on the Test? A Closer Look at How Leaders and Parents Think about Accountability in the Public Schools,” and “No Easy Way Out: Citizens Talk about Tackling the Debt,” She was the principal researcher and lead author for three studies of young adults’ views on college, completed for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them: Myths and Realities About Why So Many Students Fail to Finish College,” “Can I Get a Little Advice Here? How an Overstretched High School Guidance System Is Undermining Students’ College Aspirations,” and “One Degree of Separation: How Young Americans Who Don’t Finish College See Their Chances for Success.”

Johnson has also authored a series of books drawing on her work at Public Agenda, most recently You Can’t Do It Alone: A Communications and Engagement Manual for School Leaders Committed to Reform (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). With Public Agenda senior fellow Scott Bittle, she is the co-author of a series designed to help typical citizens understand complex public policy issues. Published by HarperCollins, the series includes: Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis (2008); Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis (2010); and Where Did the Jobs Go? And What Can We Do to Get Them Back? (2012).

Johnson has also written articles for USA Today, Education Leadership, Education Week, and The Kettering Review. She and Bittle are regular contributors to the blogs The Huffington Post and The Great Energy Challenge. Her media appearances include Bill Moyers’ Journal, CNN, NPR’s Fresh Air, The Dylan Ratigan Show, Today Show, and The O’Reilly Factor.

Prior to joining Public Agenda in 1980, Johnson was Resource Director for Action for Children’s Television in Boston. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and holds master’s degrees from Brown University and Simmons College.