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Alex M. Johnson

Executive Director

Alex Johnson is the Executive Director for the Children's Defense Fund-California. In this capacity he leads the organizations statewide advocacy, policy, program and organizing efforts to ensure access to quality affordable health coverage and care for children and low income families, reforming the juvenile justice system, promoting educational equity, and ending child poverty.

Prior to assuming this position, Alex served as Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Born, raised and educated in Los Angeles, he is the product of Los Angeles public schools and the son of a retired LAUSD teacher and a retired truck driver. Alex has worked collaboratively with education advocates to increase access to quality early childhood education programs. His work has focused on altering the social dynamic that begins with a student's poor education in childhood, progresses to a high dropout rate during high school and ends with a young person's future irrevocably altered by crime, conviction and incarceration. To change that social dynamic, particularly for young men of color, Alex led the effort to create the first-ever Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools in a California youth probation camp.

Prior to his work in Los Angeles County, Alex worked with school instructional leaders in the New York City Department of Education. He assessed teachers' instructional strengths and provided professional support to teachers to aid their classroom effectiveness. In addition, he provided counsel to school leaders and departmental executives as well as managed complex civil litigation, policy matters and special disciplinary proceedings as part of a teacher quality initiative. He earned a substitute teacher's license and taught constitutional law and civics to high school students as a Fellow with the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. Additionally, Alex served as an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College, one of 23-colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system.

As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, he advocated on behalf of indigent defendants at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Alex began his public service experience as an intern in the offices of U.S. Representatives Julian Dixon and Juanita Millender-McDonald. He served as an aide to Georgia State Representative Douglas C. Dean and as a project manager for the 2000 Democratic National Convention Committee in Los Angeles.

Alex worked for the late noted attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., a tireless advocate for justice on behalf of people in underserved and underrepresented communities. Alex continued in the tradition of Johnnie Cochran as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx, New York where he advocated for victims of domestic violence and sought to protect them by helping them secure safe housing and mental health services.

Alex is a graduate of Morehouse College where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science (cum laude). He earned his Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law.

Alex is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Education. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the California Alliance for Arts Education and the Wiley Center for Speech and Language Development. He formerly served on the Board of the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Alex sits on the selection committee for the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds® scholarship program.

Alex is the author of Beyond Higher Education: The Need for African-Americans to be "Knowledge Producers.