Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson is a Senior Fellow and Special Adviser for Public Agenda who has worked with our organization since the early 1980s. During that time, she has authored or co-authored Public Agenda studies on education, families, religion, race relations, the federal budget, retirement, welfare, and health care. Most recently, she was the lead author for two 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," and "No Easy Way Out: Citizens Talk about Tackling the Debt." She was the principal researcher and lead author also the lead author for three studies of young adults' views on college completed for the Bill & 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 Changes for Success."

Jean 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). Writing with Public Agenda senior fellow Scott Bittle, she is also the co-author of a series of guides 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).

Ms. Johnson has also written articles for USA Today, Education Leadership, Education Week and The Kettering Review. She and colleague Scott Bittle are regular contributors to The Huffington Post and National Geographic's The Great Energy Challenge blog.

She has prepared papers and made presentations for major organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Urban Institute, National Institute of Justice, and National School Public Relations Association. She has appeared in the media on Bill Moyers' Journal, CNN, NPR's Fresh Air, The Dylan Ratigan Show, Today Show, and The O'Reilly Factor among others.

Ms. Johnson was instrumental in the design and development of Public Agenda Online, our Webby-nominated public policy web site. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she developed a series of experimental citizen education campaigns for local news outlets including Public Summit '88, designed to help citizens discuss U.S./Soviet relations; SchoolVote, which focused on public school reform; and Condition Critical, with a spotlight on health care reform. The health care project was the basis of a nationally telecast PBS special.

In addition to her work with Public Agenda, Ms. Johnson is a member of the board of the National Issues Forums Institute, an organization which convenes citizens nationwide for non-partisan discussions on important issues. She is also a director of Sugal Records, a small, New York-based classical music recording company.

Prior to joining Public Agenda in 1980, Ms. Johnson was Resource Director for Action for Children's Television in Boston, where she authored a number of articles on television and children. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and holds master's degrees from Brown University and Simmons College.

Areas of expertise: Americans' views on major issues including education, higher education, the federal budget, energy, jobs and the economy and others; public opinion research; presentation of complex policy issues for typical citizens; public speaking

Email: jjohnson@publicagenda.org | CONTACT FOR INTERVIEW

Recent writings by Jean Johnson


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