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John E. Johnson, Jr.

Executive Director

John. E. Johnson, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) and a member of the cabinet of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. MDCR serves as the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, enforcing the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and related disability laws in Michigan.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission named Johnson to the MDCR leadership position on July 26, 2021. At MDCR, Johnson oversees an annual budget of more than $18 million and offices in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

Before his appointment to lead MDCR, Johnson served as MDCR Legislative Liaison and Advisor to the Commission, beginning on May 3, 2021. He served as Interim Executive Director for MDCR from May 24, 2021 to July 26, 2021. Prior to his service with MDCR, Johnson was the Executive Director of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, a position he held for seven years.

Over the course of his career, Johnson has served in a number of leadership positions, including Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit, General Counsel to the Detroit NAACP, Deputy Executive Director of the Legal Aid and Defender Association, and Hearing Officer for the Michigan Tax Tribunal. He was also a Management Consultant with Legal Services Corporation of Washington D.C., the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation. Johnson also owned a private law practice.

Johnson was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University and a Juris Doctorate from Valparaiso University. He has been a member of the State Bar of Michigan for more than 41 years and has been involved with the Detroit NAACP since 1992.