Brian C. Johnson

Brian C. Johnson has served as the CEO of Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, since 2016.  In this role, he leads efforts to build a better Illinois by advancing equal treatment & full acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

As CEO, Brian oversees the three non-profit entities that make up the organization, each with its own board of directors: Equality Illinois Institute, the 501 (c)(3) arm that focuses on education of the public, media and policy makers on LGBT issues; Equality Illinois, the 501 (c)(4) entity that advocates for the adoption of particular policies aimed at making Illinois a more equal and accepting place for the LGBTQ community; and the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (PAC), which endorses and supports political candidates on the state and local levels who will champion a more equitable future for Illinois.

Prior to his time at Equality Illinois, Brian spent nearly two decades as a leader in social justice.  His passion for fighting for equity was catalyzed by having served as a first-grade teacher, and Teach For America corps member, in Baton Rouge, LA.  Seeing first-hand how systemic injustice impacted the lives of passionate and capable children, Brian committed his career to fighting to make sure America lived up to its promise as a fair and equitable country.

Brian came to Equality Illinois from Leadership For Educational Equity (LEE), where he served as the Vice President of Regional Impact.  In this role, he helped lead the nationwide efforts to recruit nearly 300 teachers and former teachers to become candidates for public office while simultaneously launching community led organizing efforts in a dozen cities across the country including Chicago, New York, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Brian has served in a variety of leadership roles in non-profits throughout the country.  He served as the Executive Director of Teach For America in Los Angeles where he led the efforts to place and support nearly 800 effective teachers in public schools throughout Los Angeles.  He also headed up the Larchmont Schools, two racially and socio-economically diverse public schools in central Los Angeles.  Under his leadership, both schools were recognized as among the academically highest performing schools in the state of California.

Brian earned his AB, magna cum laude, from Princeton University, his JD from Stanford Law School, and his MBA, as an Arjay Miller Scholar, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  He is also Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow since 2020.  He lives with his husband Toby and their daughter Josephine in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.

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