Alexis McGill Johnson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

alexis mcgill johnson

Getty Planned Parenthood Federation of America chair Alexis McGill Johnson attends the 2014 Ebony Power 100 List event at Avalon on November 19, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

The board of directors at Planned Parenthood have voted unanimously to appoint Alexis McGill Johnson to serve as the acting president and chief executive of both Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, according to The New York Times.

The vote comes after Planned Parenthood decided to remove its president, Dr. Leana Wen, after less than a year in the job.

Here’s everything you need to know about Alexis McGill Johnson.

1. She Was the Co-founder and Co-Director of Perception Institute, an Anti-Bias Research Group

alexis mcgill johnson planned parenthood

GettyPlanned Parenthood Federation of America Board Chair Alexis McGill Johnson joins lawmakers to announce new legislation to protect a woman’s right to abortion during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. According to its sponsors, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 would “protect a women’s right to safe and legal abortion by preempting restrictive regulations and laws – such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin – intended to curtail reproductive health services for women.

Johnson was the co-founder and co-director of Perception Institute, which describes itself as a consortium of researchers, advocates and strategists who work to research and reduce bias and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic and other identities within the sectors of education, healthcare, media, workplace, law enforcement and civil justice.

According to her biography on the Perception Institute’s website, she collaborated with scientists to research the effectiveness of discrimination-reducing interventions and lead workshops and lectures for different institutions and corporations.

She was also Executive Director of Citizen Change, a nonprofit group that aims to educate young, diverse voters, and launched the “Vote or Die!” campaign to build a new model for non-traditional voter mobilization.

She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and has graduate degrees in political science from Yale University, according to her bio. She also taught for the Department of Political Science and African American studies at both Yale and Wesleyan Universities.

2. She Worked for Planned Parenthood for Nearly a Decade

Before she became Planned Parenthood’s acting president and chief executive, she served as a chair of the board for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a board member of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and chair of the Planned Parenthood Political Action Committee, according to her bio.

A news release given to Bustle said that Johnson had been serving on the Planned Parenthood board for “nearly a decade.” She worked as the board chair from 2013 to 2015 and helped develop strategies on how to increase access to Planned Parenthood’s health centers and identify new technology to meet the needs of their patients.

“Having been part of the Planned Parenthood family for nearly a decade, and having spent my career working in movements for social justice, I can’t think of a greater honor or more weighty responsibility than leading an organization like Planned Parenthood in this moment,” Johnson said on Twitter.

Johnson also thanked Dr. Wen for her service and commitment to her patients.

3. She Partnered with Starbucks for their Racial Bias Curriculum

Johnson was a partner in co-creating a racial bias curriculum for Starbucks, according to her bio.

The nationwide training initiative saw 8,000 Starbucks stores close in the United States for four hours on May 29, 2018 so that 175,000 Starbucks partners could learn about racial bias, according to a post on Starbucks Stories & News. The curriculum included watching videos that talked with experts including Johnson about racial bias.

The training session came after two men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were both arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, according to National Public Radio. Employees refused to give the men access to the bathroom because they haven’t purchased anything. The men allegedly refused to leave and so the manager called 911. Officers arrived asked the two men to leave three times before arresting them.

4. She Is the Author of a Study on the Hair of Black Women

Johnson is an author of “The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair” along with Rachel D. Godsil, Jessica MacFarlane, MPH, Dr. Linda R. Tropp and Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff.

The 2016 study examined attitudes toward the hair of black women. It also created a measure of implicit bias against textured hair called the Hair Implicit Association Test (Hair IAT). The study found that bias correlates with discriminatory behavior such as avoidance, rejection and abuse. They also found that “black women in the natural hair community have more positive implicit and explicit attitudes toward textured hair than all other women, even black women in the national sample who say they are part of the ‘natural hair movement.'”

You can read the full study here.

Johnson also wrote His Story: Shifting Narratives for Boys and Men of Color with Godsil. The book discusses “the impact of narratives on the brain, strategies for narrative change and narrative expansion, and the creation of an ‘ecosystem’ to advance narrative change.” The book was made in collaboration between Perception Institute and the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

5. Planned Parenthood President Dr. Wen Left Because of “Philosophical Differences” with the Organization

In a statement, Dr. Wen said that she is leaving her position as the president of Planned Parenthood because she and the new board chairs have “philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

She said that she believed that “the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights.”

“We thank Dr. Leana Wen for her service to Planned Parenthood in such a pivotal time and extend our best wishes for her continued success,” said Aimee Cunningham and Jennie Rosenthal, the chairwomen of the two Planned Parenthood boards, in a joint statement.

Dr. Wen was appointed last September and Republican-controlled statehouses in Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri all advanced legislation to restrict abortion, with some banning abortion altogether, during her tenure, according to The New York Times.

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