Alexis McGill Johnson
Alexis is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Perception Institute. A thought leader and a bridge builder whose work spans politics, academia, social activism, population health, and cultural strategies, her career has always focused on improving the lives of young people, with an emphasis on youth of color.
Alexis earned her undergraduate degree in politics from Princeton University; and graduate degrees in political science from Yale University where she developed and taught courses on race, urban development, power, poverty, and social movements at Yale and Wesleyan Universities. Throughout her research and writing, Alexis has explored the shifting paradigms of identity politics in the post-civil rights era, increasing civic engagement among youth and people of color, and the implications for demographic and ideological changes of these constituencies on national politics. In 2002, Alexis wrote an article about mobilizing the Hip-Hop Generation entitled, “Can the Hip Hop Generation become the Next NRA?” An interview with Russell Simmons created a unique opportunity to begin work as Political Director of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, Simmons’s voter mobilization organization.
From 2002-2004, she worked with Mr. Simmons and his national network of artists and cultural participants to devise the strategic plan for the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s voter registration and mobilization initiatives. In July 2004, Alexis accepted an offer as Executive Director of Citizen Change, a nonprofit founded by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs that educated young voters through grassroots and tailored social media efforts. During the 2004 election cycle, Alexis worked with Sean Combs and his team at Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment on an unprecedented media and marketing campaign marked by the slogan “Vote or Die!” to educate, motivate, and empower young people about the process of voting. Mixing traditional grassroots mobilization with non-traditional consumer-based marketing methodology, Alexis helped launch a new model for reaching young people and people of color resulting in the most significant increase in youth voter engagement in a decade. Post Citizen Change, Alexis co-founded Brand Architects, LLC, a branding and marketing firm for political, progressive, and philanthropic organizations.
Alexis’s own philanthropic and service work mirrors her professional passions. She is a current board member and former Global Board Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She is also on the board of Revolutions Per Minute, a nonprofit agency that supports artists with strategy and support for their activism and philanthropy. Previously, she served on the boards of New York Civil Liberties Union, Center for Social Inclusion, and Citizen Engagement Lab. She is a founder of the Culture Group as well as a frequent commentator on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and in the press.