As founder and President of Philip W. Johnston Associates, Phil Johnston is a national and state leader on health and human services issues. Mr. Johnston began his career as a child welfare social worker in the Commonwealth of Mass. Following his work in the campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, Mr. Johnston founded the RFK Children's Action Corps, a private non-profit agency which provides residential and educational services for at-risk children throughout Massachusetts.
In 1974, Mr. Johnston was elected as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and was re-elected four times by large margins. During his tenure, he was responsible for the legislation which created the state Dept. of Social Services and the state hotline for abused and neglected children. Governor Michael S. Dukakis appointed Mr. Johnston Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1984, a position he held until 1991. In this capacity, he was chief executive officer and principal policy maker for seventeen diverse state human services agencies, including adult and juvenile corrections, parole, public welfare, child welfare, public health, mental health and retardation, medical security, disabilities, and rate setting. He directed the development and implementation of major projects including the Mental Health Action Project, a five-year, $350M initiative to reform the state’s mental health system, the creation of the nation’s first state agency serving the deaf and hard of hearing, the development of a highly successful employment and training program which put thousands of welfare recipients to work and the enactment of the state’s initial universal health care legislation.
In 1991, Mr. Johnston was appointed Executive Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington DC, the Kennedy family living memorial to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1993, President Clinton appointed Mr. Johnston New England Administrator of Health and Human Services, where he served until 1996.
Mr. Johnston was elected Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party in 2000 and served in that role until 2007. During this period, the Democratic Party enjoyed its most successful elections in history, and culminated in the victory of Governor Deval Patrick in 2006. In addition to his role as President of PWJA, Mr. Johnston serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Board of Trustees of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (appointed by Governor Deval Patrick and reappointed for a second term) and was also appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Commission on Fellowships.
Mr. Johnston has taught human services and public administration courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at Curry College and Boston University. Mr. Johnston received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University.