Meet iMentor’s Newest Board Member: Cassius Johnson

We are excited to welcome Cassius Johnson, Vice President of Organizational Strategy & Policy at Jobs for the Future (JFF), to iMentor's Board of Directors! Cassius’s expertise and experience in the education field will be invaluable to our organization as he supports and guides our work. Cynthia Olson, our Managing Director of Communications sat down with Cassius to learn more about his professional background and his interest in joining the iMentor board.

Cynthia Olson: Welcome to iMentor! I know our entire team is excited to work with you and learn more about your impressive background. I would love to hear what interested you in joining the iMentor board at this point in your life?
Cassius Johnson: It’s an exciting opportunity to support an organization doing critical work to transform lives and create opportunity in America. iMentor’s mission is needed now more than ever. Throughout my work, mentoring has stood out as an effective element of what works for educators and employers to help prepare individuals for work and life. Wherever you hear of a successful education and training program, very often mentoring is a key part of the success. It's a powerful tool for transforming lives.

Cynthia: What role did mentorship play in your own life, and how did that affect your decision to join iMentor?
Cassius: I’ve had a number of mentors, most of them have been extraordinary women, who saw and helped me see my own potential. They gave me feedback, showed me love, and encouraged me to take risks. I credit a great deal of who I am to their belief in me.

Cynthia: Why is higher education important to you? Please tell us a bit about your own personal education and career path.
Cassius: My decision to attend the community college in my small hometown in Alabama was life-changing. It was a smart decision for me financially and later opened many doors. I excelled and was awarded a full-scholarship to complete school at a university in Texas as an honors student. For me higher education was the key to new opportunities that had previously not been available to my family.

Cynthia: What does higher education mean for iMentor’s students, and other first-generation students across the country?
Cassius: Higher education is not just an opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills. It is also a place to practice building the relationships and social capital also required for success in work and life. I encourage iMentor students to excel academically and to also thrive in the richness of opportunities for leadership, fellowship, and service.

As JFF's Vice President of Organizational Strategy and Policy, Cassius Johnson plays a key leadership role in steering organizational vision, strategy, and business development. He represents the organization as a key leader both internally and externally while sharing responsibility for sustaining JFF’s strong reputation in the field and with partners. He is a member of the JFF executive office and serves as strategic advisor to all JFF program vice presidents. Working closely with the CEO and executive team, Cassius is also responsible for the overall success of strategy execution and business development; management and development of national and federal education and workforce policy initiatives; and development and implementation of a JFF research strategy.

Currently, Cassius also serves on the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board and chairs the Youth Committee. Additionally, he is the vice chair of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. Before joining JFF, he served as the senior director of policy and government affairs at Year Up, where he led national and federal policy and government affairs. Previously, he was a program officer at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, conducting grant making in education reform and new school designs. Prior to that, he was associate vice president at JFF, where he worked for almost eight years, launching the organization’s DC operations and directing national and federal policy activities. He began his policy career in the Texas State Legislature, where he was Chief of Staff for a member of the House of Representatives. Cassius attended the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin, Texas, where he was a Barbara Jordan Scholar.