Former Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

Carol Johnson is a 2014 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow and a visiting professor at Vanderbilt/Peabody College. She currently serves on the Spencer Foundation Board, the national board of City Year and the 
Memphis Advisory board for Facing History and Ourselves. 

Dr. Carol R. Johnson was Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) 2007-2013, having been appointed by a unanimous vote of the Boston School Committee after a national search.  As Superintendent of the 57,000-student district, she also served as a cabinet member for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  Under her leadership, the district focused on closing achievement and access gaps as well as graduating all students prepared for college and career success. During her tenure, graduation rates increased annually and the dropout rate decreased by over 40% to its lowest levels since 1977.  In 2012, Dr. Johnson received the nation’s highest honor for urban education leadership, the Richard R. Green Award, presented by the Council of the Great City Schools.  In 2010, BPS was recognized as one of the most improved school districts in the world by McKinsey and Company. 

Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience in public education as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. Prior to her appointment in Boston, Dr. Johnson was Superintendent in Memphis, TN and Minneapolis, MN, where she was named Minnesota Superintendent of the Year.  Nationally, Dr. Johnson served on the Board of Directors for the Council of the Great City Schools, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Board, the Harvard University Urban Superintendents’ Advisory Board, and she has served on the College Board.  Dr. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fisk University in Nashville, TN, and master’s and doctorate degrees in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota. She has also been awarded honorary degrees from Lemoyne Owen College and Rhodes College, both in Memphis, TN and Simmons College in Boston.  She was married to history teacher Matthew Johnson (deceased), and she has three children.