Education Advocacy Fellow, New Jersey
Tish Johnson has over 15 years of combined financial, government, legal and corporate knowledge that she is excited to bring to the education advocacy sector. Raised in Irvington, NJ, she is keenly aware of the impact that a quality education can have. After completing law school, Tish realized she no longer had the desire to practice law, but was interested in developing a career centered on community engagement and outreach. She relocated back to New Jersey and became a legislative aide in Newark, where she was responsible for building community partnerships and relationships, developing and supporting programs and initiatives and analyzing impending policies.
In 2014, Tish founded The Groundwork Agency, a capacity building firm, whose ultimate goal is to “help people, help people.” Through TGA, Tish has worked with charter school networks, women’s shelters, traditional public schools and various nonprofit organizations to ensure they are reaching their maximum potential by developing impactful programming and forming collaborative partnerships that allow them to have a great impact on the communities they serve.
Tish is currently the co-chair of the program committee for the I Have A Dream Foundation-Newark and legal advisor for Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. She is the former chair of the Civic and Economics Committee for the Urban League of Essex County Young Professionals. Tish has completed the Education Pioneers and Leadership Newark Fellowships and is an adjunct professor at Essex County Community College. Her proudest role is that of mom to the coolest 10-year-old around.
I aspire to be like Michelle Obama. Here’s why:
Michelle Obama is the epitome of grace, class and authenticity. As the First Lady of the United States, I have seen her berated by large media outlets and degraded across social media platforms; yet, she has proven to be steadfast in her convictions and elegant in her response: “when they go low, we go high.”
Mrs. Obama has taken her role as First Lady head-on and has followed her passion with the “Let’s Move” Campaign and the tremendous work she has done with young women around the world. As an African-American woman advocating for high-quality education for children in urban communities, Michelle Obama inspires me to stay the course and remain unwavering in my commitment.
Why I love my job:
I love my job because I get to wake up every day knowing that I can have an impact on the lives of children that I may never meet. I have the ability to work with amazing people that share a passion in closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all children, despite location, socioeconomic status and learning ability can have access to a high-quality education that can be successfully measured. I have the ability to assist parents in developing their voice in the education movement and advocate on behalf of those that feel voiceless and forgotten about.
This is a job that doesn’t feel like a job, but more of a mission to make this world a better place for those who don’t believe that is a viable possibility.
My connection to public schools:
I am a product of the public school system in Irvington, NJ. That system wasn’t designed to produce attorneys, doctors, engineers and corporate executives, but through the dedication of caring teachers who go above and beyond for their students, it has.
What I’m bad at:
I am bad at convincing my son that I am a cool mom! Hopefully as he gets older and looks back, he will realize just how cool I really am.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
This is a picture of my son and me during opening weekend at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. This image is a reminder that education takes place not only in the classroom, but in museums and the exploration of new cities and countries around the world.
Touring the museum with my son also showed him the incredible legacy of strength that he comes from. It inspires him to dream the greatest dream and to go out and conquer it. I receive that same inspiration from the work of 50CAN.