Alex Johnson selected as Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund - California

For Immediate Release
September 15, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Hanif Houston, (510) 684-0322,

Alex Johnson Brings Expertise and Leadership on Child and Youth Policy and Program

Los Angeles, CA – The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is pleased to announce that Alex Johnson has joined CDF-California as Executive Director. Johnson brings to CDF-CA a powerful combination of extensive policy experience on behalf of children and youth, strong partnerships with community-based organizations and elected officials, and a passion for making a difference in the lives of California’s children. Johnson previously served as Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety for the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alex to CDF and excited to have him lead us forward in California,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “He has been a strong and committed partner in our CDF Freedom Schools® expansion in Los Angeles County over the past four years. With Alex at the helm of our California office, we will not miss a beat in our critical work to dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline™ which leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a one in six chance of the same fate, and in our work to ensure all of California’s children have a the opportunity to thrive and succeed.”

As a senior policy advisor for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Johnson developed and implemented key education and public safety policy priorities and initiatives, including ensuring continued access to high-quality universal preschool in Los Angeles County and reforming the County’s juvenile justice system. Johnson played a crucial role in expanding the CDF Freedom Schools summer literacy and enrichment program in Los Angeles, including successful implementation of a pilot program in two juvenile probation camps.

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to join such an impressive organization, and move forward CDFCA’s crucial work to ensure a level playing field for all California children,” said Johnson.

Prior to his four years at the Supervisor’s office, Johnson worked as an attorney in the New York City Department of Education’s Teacher Performance Unit on a quality initiative to improve academic outcomes for K-12 students. Johnson also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County. He currently serves as a board member of the Los Angeles County Board of Education. Johnson received a B.A. from Morehouse College and a J.D. from American University.

As Executive Director of CDF-CA, Johnson will oversee the organization’s advocacy and organizing work to ensure access to affordable, high-quality health coverage for all California children, reform of the juvenile justice system, educational equity, and end child poverty. Johnson will also manage California’s CDF Freedom Schools program and Beat the Odds® scholarship and leadership development program for high school students who have overcome adversity to excel in school and as leaders in their communities.

Johnson succeeds Kim Brettschneider, who left CDF-CA after eight years to pursue opportunities back home in New York.

For interviews, contact Hanif Houston at (510) 684-0322 or


Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is the California office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. The Children’s Defense Fund champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care and a quality education. CDF-CA focuses on policies to expend ensure access to quality health coverage and care, reform the juvenile justice system, promote educational equity, and end child poverty. CDF-CA’s programs including the CDF Freedom Schools summer literary and enrichment program and the Beat the Odds Scholarship and Leadership Program for high school students who have overcome adversity to excel in school and as leaders in their communities.