James A. Johnson’s Career

James A. Johnson has over five decades of experience in politics, public service, business, and philanthropy. He’s served as Chairman of Johnson Capital Partners from 2001 to the present.

In politics, he served as Executive Assistant to Senator and Vice President Walter F. Mondale. He’s advised Democratic Presidential candidates Carter, Mondale, Gore, Kerry and Obama. 

Mr. Johnson has over 100 years of cumulative service on the corporate boards of NYSE-traded companies, including: Forestar Group, Gannett, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Target Corporation, Temple Inland, UnitedHealth Group, and Fannie Mae. He’s held executive roles at the Dayton Hudson Corporation, Public Strategies (acquired by Shearson Lehman), Fannie Mae, Perseus LLC and Johnson Capital Partners.

Mr. Johnson serves as the Chairman Emeritus of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Brookings Institution. He also holds the following memberships or advisory positions:

  • Chair of the Advisory Council, Stanford Center of Longevity
  • Member of the Advisory Council, the Hamilton Project
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Member on the Council of Foreign Relations
  • Member on the Council of the National Museum of African American History
  • Former member on International Council of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University

Honors include:

  • George Washington University School of Business and Public Management’s CEO of the Year (1994)
  • Helen Hayes Peat Marwick Award for Distinguished Community Service (with Fannie Mae, 1995)
  • Honorary Doctorate from Colby College (1997)
  • Washingtonian Magazine’s Washingtonian of the Year (1998)
  • Honorary Doctorate from Howard University (1999)
  • Honorary Doctorate from Skidmore College (2002)
  • Honorary Doctorate from Augsburg College (2006)
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Minnesota (2006)

Mr. Johnson’s lifelong dedication to social justice and public service was inspired by his father, Alfred I. Johnson, who served as the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1955-1959. As a college student at the University of Minnesota, Mr. Johnson drove from Minnesota to Alabama to accompany Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the third Selma Civil Rights March. Among many other charitable gifts, Mr. Johnson created and underwrote the Millenium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, endowed the Walter Mondale-A.I. Johnson Scholarship fund at the University of Minnesota and led advisory council giving for the Stanford Center for Longevity.