Hosanna Mahaley Johnson serves as acting state superintendent for the District of Columbia. In this role, she is implementing the rollout of common core standards for DC's schools, managing the District's Race to the Top initiatives, and overseeing federal education grants for the District. Previously, Johnson served as senior partner and adviser to school systems working with Wireless Generation, a leading education organization that develops innovative technology-based solutions to address Pre K–12 teaching and learning challenges.
Over the past 20 years, Johnson has acquired a rare blend of deep K–12 domain knowledge and formal business training. She aspires to become superintendent of an urban school district.
Johnson spent eight years in Chicago working primarily on education issues, initially out of Mayor Richard Daley's office as special assistant to the mayor and subsequently out of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where she held numerous leadership positions, including chief of staff to then-CEO Arne Duncan. At CPS, the nation's third largest school district, she rose to the second-most senior executive position in the district and coordinated virtually all of the policy, leadership, organizational structuring, operational, and external affairs issues. She served as liaison to city hall and to numerous other city agencies and elected officials. She also managed Renaissance 2010, Chicago's reform initiative to close underperforming schools and to open 15–20 new schools per year. Under her leadership, over 50 schools were opened, and they outperformed district schools on several key measures.
After leaving Chicago in 2007, Hosanna moved to Atlanta to become president of the Atlanta Education Fund (AEF), a new fund chartered by the mayor and top Atlanta business leaders to focus on galvanizing community and business support for the school system's reform initiatives. At AEF, Johnson raised millions of dollars to support the implementation of citywide public engagement and college success efforts.
Prior to her work in Chicago, Johnson was a middle school math teacher in Oceanside, Calif., where she developed new curriculum that resulted in her students frequently winning state and local math competitions.
Johnson has been recognized for her desire to pioneer innovation, enforce accountability, and maintain high expectations on behalf of children. She has received numerous awards, including "Teacher of the Year" and "Outstanding Alumnae of the Decade" for her commitment to excellence and in 2006, was named one of Crain's Chicago Business Magazine's "40 under 40."
Johnson has participated in the Broad Foundation Superintendents Academy, was an inaugural fellow in the Aspen Institute's Education Entrepreneurs group, and has been involved in Harvard Business School's Public Education Leadership Program (PELP) since its inception. She holds key roles on several boards of directors including serving as vice president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and a member of the executive committee on Education Sector's board of directors. Johnson, a public school graduate, holds a bachelor's degree in history from Marquette University, a master's in education from University of Illinois-Chicago, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. She received her teaching certification from California State in middle school mathematics and English as a second language.
Johnson has been profiled in numerous magazines and publications.