After a months-long, nationwide search, the Gary Community Investments (GCI) Board of Directors has selected Michael (Mike) Johnston as the next President and CEO of Gary Community Investments, which includes The Piton Foundation. He will begin his new role in January 2020.
GCI founder Sam Gary said, “In both business and philanthropy, there is more power in ‘we’ than ‘me.’ Over the past 40 years, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by many fellow travelers who make our work possible. Mike is one of those fellow travelers, and I have long admired his contributions as a dedicated education leader and dynamic public servant. Nancy and I are thrilled to have Mike at the helm during this next leg of GCI’s journey to ensure that what could be, should be for all Colorado children.”
Board chair and outgoing President and CEO Dave Younggren shared, “Mike was selected from a pool of more than 100 highly qualified candidates from across the country. We believe he is the best person to successfully guide our organization as we seek to fulfill the vision of our founder Sam Gary. Mike's deep commitment to the Colorado community, leadership experience and ability to bring people together, aligns well with our work to improve the lives of Colorado’s children and families.”
Mike is a Colorado native who began his career as a teacher in rural Mississippi. He came home to Colorado to serve as the principal of three different schools. Mike also served as a senior education policy advisor to Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and was elected to two terms in the Colorado State Senate from 2009-2017. Over the last two decades, he has led and founded numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations, including most recently Traverse LLC, a strategic consulting firm. Mike is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Yale Law School.
Mike shared his gratitude and enthusiasm for taking on this new role. "Sam and Nancy Gary are Colorado icons of courage and generosity. They have already changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Colorado families, and their selfless commitment to making an impact will transform this state for generations to come. Likewise, because of Dave and his leadership we are now positioned to be a national model for ensuring increased opportunities for every one of our neighbors. I am honored and humbled to join this talented team of people who are committed to delivering historic results for Colorado children and families," said Mike.
Sam added, “Even as we welcome a new leader, I want to share my gratitude for Dave’s service and friendship. Dave came to work for my energy company when he was fresh out of business school, and we built a decades-long partnership based on mutual respect, loyalty and a shared commitment to doing well in business and doing good for the community. As CEO, Dave helped solidify my vision for doing philanthropy differently. As he moves into retirement, Dave will continue stewarding that vision as chairman of our board––and he will always remain my close friend.”
“Also, special thanks to Korn Ferry, the national search firm that coordinated our search process in conjunction with the search committee,” he said.
Dave Younggren will remain in his role as President and CEO through the end of 2019.
More about Mike Johnston
Mike Johnston is a Colorado native who began his career as a teacher in rural Mississippi, which inspired him to write his acclaimed book, “In the Deep Heart’s Core.” He came home to Colorado to serve as the principal of three different schools, including one inside a juvenile prison and one that served students who lived in group homes under state custody. His third school, MESA, became the first school in Colorado history where 100 percent of seniors graduated from high school and 100 percent were admitted to a four-year college.
Mike served as a senior education policy advisor to Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and transition and was elected to two terms in the Colorado State Senate from 2009-2017. During his tenure, he passed over 100 bills with bipartisan support, including major reform measures on education, immigration, racial discrimination and rural economic development. Over the last two decades, Mike has led and founded numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations, including New Leaders, Urban Leaders Fellowship, America Achieves and Traverse LLC.
Mike is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Yale Law School. He lives with his wife Courtney, who is a Chief Deputy District Attorney in Denver, and their kids Emmet, 12, Seamus, 12, and Ava, 8.