Dean’s Distinguished Speakers
Kevin Johnson, Mayor, City of Sacramento; and Michelle Rhee, Founder & CEO, StudentsFirst Former Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

Event Details

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Kevin Johnson, Mayor, City of Sacramento

Michelle Rhee, Founder & CEO, StudentsFirst
Former Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

“Leading Organizational Change”

About Mayor Kevin Johnson

Elected in November 2008, Kevin Johnson is the 55th mayor of Sacramento and the first African American to serve in this office.  Mayor Johnson strongly believes that in order to be a great city, you have to have great schools and is committed to identifying ways to strategically drive education reform.

During the first two years of his administration, Johnson has accomplished a number of objectives in his ambitious plan to ensure that all Sacramento students have the opportunity to attend excellent public schools and is being referred to nationally as the education mayor.  In additional to creating a formal partnership between the city and area school districts and hosting four major education summits, Mayor Johnson serves as co-chair for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s (USDOE) Mayors Advisory Council and chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Task Force on Public Education.  He also played a key role in passing California Race to the Top (RTTT), Common Core Standards and the landmark Parent Trigger legislation.  Additionally, in December 2009 he launched STAND UP, a 501c3 organization whose mission is to advocate, mobilize and support excellent public schools that attain high levels of achievement and college completion for all children. 

Johnson’s dedication to education began long before he started his tenure as mayor.  Upon retiring from the NBA after 12 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, he returned to his hometown, the Oak Park neighborhood in Sacramento to serve as the CEO of St. HOPE, a non-profit community development organization he founded designed to revitalize inner-city communities.  In 2001, to address the shortage of quality education options, he formed St. HOPE Public Schools, a preK-12 charter school system. PS7 (grades K-8), which has no achievement gap and an API of 914, is now considered one of the top schools in the state and was  recently recognized as a California Distinguished School.  Sacramento High School, one of the first successful transformation schools in the country, has seen a significant improvement in academic achievement and four-year college acceptance rates  The school earned a Pillar of Promise Award for Excellence in the Commitment of Providing Effective Education from the America’s Promise Alliance in October 2010. 

Mayor Johnson is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.A., Political Science).  His concern and compassion for children and education prompted President George Bush to honor Johnson with the 411th Point of Light. In addition, Johnson was selected as one of the “15 Greatest Men on Earth” by McCall’s Magazine and has received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, the Good Morning America Award from Sports Illustrated, the “Most Caring American” award by the Caring Institute, and induction into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in Boise, Idaho, and the Pac-10 Hall of Fame.

About Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee has been working for the last 18 years to give children the skills and knowledge they will need to compete in a changing world. From adding instructional time after school and visiting students’ homes as a third grade teacher in Baltimore, to hosting hundreds of community meetings and creating a Youth Cabinet to bring students’ voices into reforming the DC Public Schools, she has always been guided by one core principle: put students first.

Each chapter of Michelle’s story has convinced her: students of every background and ZIP code can achieve at high levels, and for our schools to become what children deserve, every educator is called to believe this. Even in the toughest of circumstances, all teachers are called to turn the incredible potential that fills their classrooms daily, into the achievements worthy of our children and country.