Photo Gallery, Video: Obama Advisor Broderick Johnson ’78 Speaks on ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ Other White House Initiatives


College of the Holy Cross alumnus Broderick Johnson ’78 returned to campus March 30 to discuss his work on behalf of President Obama as assistant to the president, Cabinet secretary and chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.

In 2014, President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, the administration joins with cities and towns, businesses and foundations who connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class.

Johnson reported that, to date, more than 200 cities, tribal nations and counties representing all 50 states have accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge to design and implement programs to strengthen their communities and create more opportunities for at-risk youth.

“We’ve got to make sure this country is a place in which anyone who wants to succeed can succeed,” Johnson said.

A panel of five students — Greyson Ford ’16, Jewel Duberry-Douglas ’18, Lance Madden ’18, Isaiah Baker ’16, and Marcellis Perkins ’19 — posed questions to Johnson on issues ranging from educational policy and science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives to police-community relations and criminal justice reform.

In his talk, Johnson, who was a philosophy major at Holy Cross, also recalled some of his memorable moments in the White House, including joining President Obama in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, being with the president as he announced his executive actions on guns, and meeting Pope Francis at the White House.

And he reflected on his years at Holy Cross in the mid- to late-’70s.

“I had some incredible times here, some wonderful times, some important growth times, and I feel like this is a renewing of a relationship with Holy Cross, so I’m profoundly grateful for that,” he said.

The event was sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.