About Mike Johnston
Mike Johnston represents Northeast Denver in the Colorado State Senate.
Mike first entered education as a high school English teacher in Greenville, Mississippi, an experience that led him to write his acclaimed memoir, In the Deep Heart’s Core. After leaving the Mississippi Delta, Mike co-founded New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit that recruits and trains urban principals. Mike started his own career as a principal leading two alternative high schools serving Colorado students held in state custody or living in group homes and detention centers. Most recently, Mike was the co-founder and principal of MESA (Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts), a redesigned urban high school that made Colorado history by becoming the first public high school in which 100 percent of seniors were admitted to four-year colleges.
He has been an adjunct professor of education law at the University of Denver and has served as an adviser to state and federal political campaigns around the country, most recently as a top education adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and transition. In the Colorado State Senate, Mike passed teacher tenure reform that became the blueprint for 18 other states, as well as school finance reform, a state-level DREAM Act, and criminal justice reform.
Named to Time Magazine’s “40 Under 40” and Forbes Magazine’s list of the “Most Influential Educators,” Mike holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Yale Law School. He lives in Northeast Denver with his wife Courtney, who is a Deputy District Attorney, their twin sons, Emmet and Seamus, and daughter, Ava.