Dr. Melanie Johnson named new Collaborative for Children president and CEO

Dr. Melanie Johnson has joined Collaborative for Children as its new president and CEO. Dr. Johnson replaces Carol Shattuck, who retired earlier this year after 20 years at the helm of the agency. Collaborative for Children is thrilled to welcome Dr. Johnson to the organization and looks forward to continued growth and impact under her leadership. 

Dr. Johnson most recently served as the president and CEO of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science (The Health Museum) in Houston and immediately prior to that was the director of the education department at NASA’s Space Center Houston. Dr. Johnson brings an extensive background in leadership and educational programming to her new post.

“The board of directors is pleased that Dr. Johnson will assume the leadership role at Collaborative for Children,” said board chair Laura Sayavedra. “Dr. Johnson brings a history of success in nonprofit leadership and a background in education and quality improvement processes that are central to the work of the organization. And, importantly, she has a passion for our mission to ensure that all children in our community have access to high-quality early childhood learning,” Sayavedra said.  

A search committee led by Collaborative for Children’s immediate past board chair Ginni Mithoff engaged the executive search consultancy firm of Lowry Rhoads to conduct a national search for Collaborative for Children’s next leader. “Dr. Johnson possesses all of the attributes we were seeking in a new executive,” Mithoff said. “She has a proven track record of innovative leadership in a diverse workplace and a passion for serving young children. Her experience in fundraising, branding and programmatic leadership made her an ideal candidate for the position of president and CEO and we are excited about her ability to lead Collaborative for Children into the future,” said Mithoff.

“Every opportunity I’ve had throughout my career to educate our community has prepared me to serve as the next president of Collaborative for Children,” Dr. Johnson said. “My experience in K-12 education, higher education and educational museum programming has allowed me to provide valuable learning opportunities to diverse students of all ages. Now, I look forward to leading Collaborative for Children’s efforts that provide high-quality early learning experiences and can instill a lifelong love of learning in our youngest citizens,” she said. 

A native of Alabama, Dr. Johnson graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Business/French. She earned a Master of Hospitality Management from the University of Houston and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Southern University. She served as head of the department for development education at Galveston College, where she designed curriculum and assessment for developmental English, reading, writing and mathematics and also designed online course to assist learners. She then held the position of director of faculty development at The Art Institute of Houston where she improved student enrollment and facilitated training seminars and workshops around quality improvement.

Dr. Johnson served as the director of the education department at NASA’s Space Center Houston for six years, during which time she created award-winning education programs, developed STEM programs that promoted equity in education and careers, and aligned the agency’s curricular content with state, national and international standards.

In 2015, Dr. Johnson was named president and CEO of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health of Medical Science. There, her successful leadership in expanding revenue, attendance and awareness led to the museum's designation as the first Smithsonian Affiliate Institution in Houston’s Museum District. She also established diverse community partnerships resulting in additional revenue streams and generated earned revenue that surpassed fundraising revenue for the first time in the museum’s 21-year history.

Dr. Johnson’s many accolades include the Microsoft World Youth Foundation Seeds of Gratitude Award for Educational Excellence, the Ivy League Youth Education and Charitable Foundation Award for the City of Houston’s Best Educators, the Pierre and Marie Curie Award for the Sciences, the American Alliance of Museum’s Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellence, and designation as one of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Thought Leaders. She was named one of the "Top 30 Most Influential Women in Houston" in 2015 and a "Woman on the Move" by the Texas Executive Women's organization in 2018. She is a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future and the American Leadership Forum and is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership. Dr. Johnson and her husband, Bruce, have two sons, Austin and Cameron.