Philip W. Johnston is the president and founder of Philip W. Johnston Associates, LLC, a communications and public affairs consulting firm. Prior to establishing his firm in 1996, Phil served in senior positions in the Massachusetts legislature, the Massachusetts State cabinet, and the United States government.
In 1984, Governor Michael S. Dukakis appointed Johnston the Secretary of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts. As Secretary, he was responsible for the administration of seventeen state agencies in the health and human services field, which comprised over fifty percent of the state budget. Just prior to his appointment as Secretary, Johnston had begun his fifth consecutive term as an elected State Representative from the Fourth Plymouth District of Massachusetts.
In 1991, Johnston served as the Executive Director of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, in Washington, D.C., an organization established by the Kennedy family to continue to carry on Robert F. Kennedy’s work in the field of social justice and human rights in the United States and around the globe. In 1992, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the New England Administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the Administrator, Johnston had supervisory responsibility for a multitude of federal Health and Human Services programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Headstart, WIC and many other programs serving vulnerable populations in the six New England states. He reported directly to HHS Secretary, Donna Shalala. He served in that role until 1996 when he became a Democratic candidate for the US Congress in the 10th District of Massachusetts. From 2000-2007, Johnston was twice elected Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Johnston was appointed in 2007 by Governor Deval Patrick as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Massachusetts. He chaired the Search Committee for a new Chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He also served as Chair of the Search Committee for the new UMass Amherst Chancellor. In June 2013, Johnston was elected Chairman of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority Board of Directors. He recently was elected Vice Chair of the UMBA Board and was elected Vice Chair of the University of Massachusetts Foundation.
Johnston has served on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts since 1998. In 2002, he was appointed to Chair the Board of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, which has an endowment of $115 million dollars and provides grants to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations, which work in the healthcare field on behalf of low-income citizens. In addition, Johnston is the Board Chair of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, an organization funded by Massachusetts health providers and payers, which serves both as a health policy research organization and as a convener of key players in the health field to address key health policy issues confronting the state and the nation. The Forum has a close affiliation with Brandeis University.
Johnston also sits on the Boards of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Carroll Center for the Blind, the Tramuto Foundation, along with the Advisory Board for the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center. In 2012, Johnston was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. Most recently, Johnston was named a trustee of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.
Johnston founded and served as Executive Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, one of the top juvenile justice and social services agencies in the country. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board of the Action Corps.
In addition to holding honorary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Bridgewater State College, and Curry College, Johnston received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Honors in History) and a Master of Arts degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.