36th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Senior vice president, Brick City Development Corp

36th Annual MLK Leadership Award

Michael Johnson MCP '97. Photo: Lillian Lew-Hailer 2006
Michael Johnson MCP '97. Photo: Lillian Lew-Hailer 2006

MIT alum Michael Johnson MCP ’97 was nominated for the MLK Leadership Award by Amy Glasmeier, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), for bringing “energy and innovation” to local government in New York City and Newark, N.J.

Johnson is senior vice president in charge of real estate at Brick City Development Corp., a nonprofit that draws private investment to Newark."I am humbled to be recognized by MIT with an award named after a man whose efforts, convictions and faith made my matriculation at MIT possible," Johnson said.
Johnson's childhood experience as a public housing resident shaped his values, research, and work. His volunteer work-introducing junior high students in Brooklyn to the urban planning field-is part of his efforts to balance his personal values and occasionally conflicting professional obligations.

In spring 2006, a dinner series showcased the work of alumni who have made an impact. The DUSP Alumni of Color Dinner Series, which focused on how planners of color can serve minority communities, welcomed Johnson, then assistant vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. His talk focused on bringing personal values into professional work, urging students to consider place and community in selecting jobs after graduation.

Johnson's advice to DUSP students: Inspire people, and be inspired by people. Remember that planning is about building communities and enabling neighborhoods to live up to their potential.

--Adapted from MIT AA News & Views, 26 Apr 2006