Courtney cross-johnson

Courtney Cross-Johnson, A.B. ‘11

By UM Alumni Association

Courtney Cross-Johnson, A.B. ‘11

By UM Alumni Association
Alumna’s dedication clears path for educational success in unexpected places.

Courtney Cross-Johnson, A.B. ‘11, finds her passion giving back to community as a dedicated leader in education advocacy. Recently selected as a transformative leader in Teach For America’s feature for Black History Month: 13 Black Leaders Who are Shaping the Future of their Communities, she began her leadership journey years before, at the University of Miami.

Courtney credits lots of lessons for why she’s reached where she is now, but says many started with her experience at the U. “My love for service started at the U and for that I am grateful,” she said. “Nowadays, I always reflect on where I started and how blessed I am to have had others give back to me along the way,” she said. Courtney describes the influence and involvement at the U as the catalyst for her community service. “Being at Miami bred me into a leader. There were so many individuals around me of high caliber that required me to step my game up.”

Much of her time at UM, leading and engaging in the community, set the course for her ambitious career. "I truly cherished my time as President of both United Black Students and the National Pan-Hellenic Council during my senior year, while being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the Yellow Rose Society, Organization for Jamaican Unity, and Order of Omega."

Six years working as a teacher in the public-school system brought a keen perspective for 'seeing' how students learn, and credits that experience with driving her passion. “I absolutely loved teaching in the public-school system and I still enjoy working on behalf of women and girls in Dallas with my volunteer organizations. I have learned that students watch the silent behaviors of the adults around them and I see it as my duty to ensure that we are rearing up the finest young lady bosses around.”

The impact now, comes from her role as the Manager of Marketing for the alumni community at Teach For America. There, Courtney shines with an excellence in leadership and creating impact, guiding education strategies and connecting with students through structure and community. She is among her peers receiving accolades for black leaders in the Teach For America network who are continually stepping up to expand opportunities for students in highest-need communities.

Since diversity is one of the core values at the heart of Teach For America, they continually strive to attain a goal of educational equity, knowing it will take a diverse coalition of change-makers united around a common purpose.

Courtney is one of those change-makers.

“When you find your purpose you will be able to live out your passion,” she said. “I’m grateful that I get to combine my love of connecting people with mission-aligned work driven to end educational inequity. I love what I do whether professionally or personally and because I am passionate, it hardly feels like work.”

While the diversity of the organization is celebrated all year, Black History Month gives the opportunity to reflect on why Teach For America intentionally recruits and support leaders of color in their mission. They describe Courtney as, "an outstanding member of their network of 53,000 alumni, working to expand opportunity for students and families in low-income communities."

In addition to being a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Urban League Young Professionals, Courtney’s service with the HERitage Giving Fund helps bring together a room of black women philanthropists to fund nonprofits in North Texas that specifically serve women and girls. Courtney also volunteers with Black Girls Code-Dallas, an organization that encourages girls age 7 to 17 to enter STEM fields. “There are so many ways in which people can serve others and it ultimately betters the community around you.”