Director of Trainings

Team Growth 503 830 2837 mark.johnston@50can.org @mjj1589

Mark was born and raised in Portland, Oregon way before it was cool. From an early age, Mark’s parents and grandparents encouraged him to explore his interest in history and politics. Although he maintains a Pacific Northwest spirit, Mark headed to Orange County, California for college, where he attended Chapman University.

After spending a semester in Washington D.C., Mark felt a special connection to the nation’s capital. Mark joined Teach For America after college and taught eleventh-grade English at two D.C. charter schools. After three years in the classroom, Mark wanted to study the policies and systems impacting his students and pursued a master’s in public policy from American University.

After graduate school, Mark helped launch the college access nonprofit Matriculate, where he designed and implemented a training module that equipped undergraduate students to become college advisors for low-income high school students. As the Director of Trainings at 50CAN, Mark supports members of the 50CAN network as they develop their professional skills and improve their practice as advocates.

I aspire to be like Bill Bradley. Here’s why:

While I personally gave up ambitions of playing in the NBA in middle school, Bill Bradley used his experiences as a basketball star, a Rhodes scholar and an Air Force Reservist to become an influential political leader. In his three terms in the United States Senate, Bradley led reforms in the tax code, supported natural resource conservation, and promoted the cooling of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Bradley also served as a disruptor to the Democratic establishment and championed ideas on healthcare reform and economic support for the poor. Bradley’s life exemplifies how challenging yourself through competition can prepare you to tackle the greater challenges that confront society.

Why I love my job:

I enjoy partnering with my colleagues to help them grow and improve in their own careers. While individual leaders are important, an invested and aligned team can accomplish much more. This role gives me the opportunity to get to know the 50CAN network on a personal level and support them in becoming the best possible advocates.

My connection to public schools:

Both of my parents had long careers in Portland Public Schools. As a social worker and a speech pathologist, my parents fought for the notion that every child deserves a high-quality education.

As the product of strong public schools, I want to extend the same educational opportunities that I was granted to all students in this country.

What I’m bad at:

Art. Although I am fascinated by art in all forms, I always doubted my drawing abilities and stopped trying to develop an artistic skillset. If I could time-travel back to elementary school, I would encourage myself to be comfortable with the struggle and failure that is needed to master a new craft.

The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:

This is a picture with one of my students at his high school graduation. At the end of the day, this is what we are all about. Our work will help more kids in this country have a graduation day of their own and accomplish their personal and professional dreams.