Trustee and alumnus Philip W. Johnston is the new chairman of the UMass Building Authority Board of Directors, succeeding three-term chairman Robert Sheridan.
Johnston, who is president and chief executive officer of Johnston Associates, a Boston-based public affairs firm he founded in 1996, was elected chairman at UMBA’s recent annual meeting.
In announcing the selection of Johnston, President Robert Caret said, “Given the many services that he was already providing to the University, I appreciate Phil Johnston’s willingness to take on this new leadership role at the UMass Building Authority, which is critical for the continued success across all five campuses. I know that Phil will discharge his new duties with diligence and skill, and with the special passion that a graduate brings to serving his or her alma mater.”
Added Caret, “I also want to thank Bob Sheridan for the leadership he provided and for his outstanding service both to the UMass Building Authority and the UMass Board of Trustees. Bob is widely known for his many community involvements and has played a key role during this era of transformation and growth at the University of Massachusetts.”
Katherine Craven, executive director of the Building Authority, said, “The board has done an exceptional job selecting Phil Johnston as our new chairman. We look forward to working with such a charismatic leader and dedicated public servant.”
Johnston, who served two terms as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to the Commission of White House Fellows, said, “I’m honored to continue this journey Bob Sheridan started a few years ago. The building and construction process in the Commonwealth has long been an interest of mine.’’
He added, “The University of Massachusetts currently is engaged in the most aggressive building program in its history on all five campuses. I look forward to working with President Caret, director Craven, our chancellors and the board to ensure that these projects are completed within an open process which emphasizes both creativity in design and efficiency and transparency in the bidding process.”
Johnston has more than 30 years of experience in the public sector. From 1984-91, Johnston served as the state Secretary of Human Services under Gov. Michael Dukakis, after serving five consecutive terms as state representative.
In 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed him as the New England administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a role he held until 1996 when he became a congressional candidate for Massachusetts’ 10th District.
As a member of the Board of Trustees, Johnston chaired search committees for the chancellor’s posts at Medical School and the Amherst campus.
Johnston is also the chair of the Board of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. He also sits on the boards of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute, the Carroll Center for the Blind, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
In 2012, Johnston was appointed to the advisory board of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, one of the top juvenile justice and social services agencies in the country.
Johnston, a resident of Marshfield, received a B.A. from UMass Amherst and an M.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.