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Former International President Joins Carnegie Corporation

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Phi Theta Kappa alumnus and former International President Cassius O. Johnson has joined Carnegie Corporation of New York as a Program Officer, continuing years of service in education that began with him accepting membership into the honor society.

Johnson served as Phi Theta Kappa's International President from 1997-1998. He attended Bevill State Community College in Hamilton, Alabama, and was a member of the Alpha Psi Xi Chapter.

Cassius Johnson

Cassius Johnson

"Serving in the Society's highest position of leadership was a defining experience in my life," he said. "My service provided me the chance to travel and experience different places and people.

"I grew up in a small town in Northwest Alabama and before running for international office had never been in an airport, let alone a plane. For me, serving as International President was a game changer. The opportunity shifted the trajectory of my academic and professional careers and in significant ways my entire life."

Johnson went on to receive his bachelor's degree in political science and honors studies from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and his Master's in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Barbara Jordan Scholar. He also worked for more than two years as Phi Theta Kappa's Director of Public Relations.

"That position was the beginning of my professional career," he said. "It was the start of 10 years of impact and involvement in the education sector that I continue today."

Johnson joined Phi Theta Kappa following his first semester at Bevill State Community College because he said he valued the benefits available to members. He attended a community college with the intentions of transferring to a four-year college or university.

"The scholarship opportunities alone were compelling and fueled my desire to join," he said. "Turns out, I got so much more. Phi Theta Kappa effectively gave me a platform to excel in my college career." 

Johnson, an education policy analyst, will join Carnegie Corporation of New York working on the foundation's New Designs for K-16 Pathways program. His responsibilities will include identifying, cultivating and supporting organizations working to design and implement innovative and effective school designs, including those that use people, time, money and technology differently in K-16 education.

"Cassius Johnson has demonstrated both an informed and nuanced understanding of what is required to develop and support educational pathways to and through college for today's youth and how to translate research and practice insights into policy," said Michele Cahill, Vice President of the National Program at Carnegie Corporation. "We are delighted that he is joining Carnegie Corporation to advance this work."

Prior to joining Carnegie Corporation, Johnson worked as Associate Vice President at Jobs for the Future, where he led the organization's efforts to increase the number of low-income youth and adults who attain postsecondary credentials as part of Jobs for the Future's broader mandate of identifying, developing and promoting job education and training needs that expand opportunity.

He joined Jobs for the Future in 2005 and played a key role in establishing the organization's Washington, D.C., operations. In 2010, he testified before the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions committee on improving America's secondary schools.

"I am delighted to be joining the New Designs team at Carnegie Corporation and look forward to continuing to work to expand educational opportunities for low income and minority young people," he said.

Johnson continues to be involved with community colleges and with Phi Theta Kappa, serving as a panelist during a previous Annual Convention. He said his membership in Phi Theta Kappa opened doors throughout his academic career and allowed him to establish himself as a scholar, a leader and an engaged citizen who was ready to be successful and have a positive impact.

"I believe deeply in the missions of both (community colleges and Phi Theta Kappa) that have impacted my life in deep and meaningful ways," Johnson said. "Staying involved is a small way of giving back to two extraordinary institutions that have given me so much."