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Who We Are

Staff & Board

Clifford M. Johnson

Clifford M. Johnson

Cliff Johnson retired from his position as the founding executive director of the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities in 2021. In this role, Cliff led NLC’s efforts to help municipal leaders improve outcomes for children, youth and families in their communities. During his tenure, the Institute worked in five core program areas: education and expanded learning, early childhood success; health and wellness; youth and young adult connections; and economic opportunity and financial empowerment. Cliff served as the Institute’s executive director for 21 years.

Prior to his time at NLC, Cliff spent three years as a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities working on the development of transitional jobs and other innovative approaches to job creation and welfare‑to‑work strategies. From the mid-1980’s through the mid-1990’s, he served in senior staff positions at the Children's Defense Fund, including three years as director of CDF's Programs and Policy Division. Cliff began his career in Washington, DC as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also co-authored two books on labor and social policy while serving as a research associate with the late Sar Levitan at George Washington University's Center for Social Policy Studies.