Nancy Johnson

Childcare Co-Op Project Manager |


Nancy grew up in Southern California and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1969 – 1972. She studied theater and sociology inside the classroom and organizing for social change outside the classroom. After moving to Minnesota, two events started her on a life-long career in early childhood organizing: the birth of her first son and starting a co-owned family child care business.

Over her career in early childhood education and policy, Nancy has been a leader in advocating for worthy wages for child care workers – 99% of whom are women – and on elevating the business side of child care to support quality and compensation. She learned the management and financing challenges of operating child care centers when she directed training and research with forty twin cities metro area child care centers in Project Organizational Quality. After POQ, she directed Child Care WORKS, the statewide early childhood advocacy coalition and developed the Minnesota Apprentice/ Mentor Program which linked teacher education with on-the-job mentoring and regular wage increases. In 2001 she was awarded a National Head Start Fellowship and worked in the Washington D.C. in the office of the Commissioner of the Child Care Bureau.

Nancy helped found the Ready for K coalition which successfully changed the public dialogue about the economic return for all Minnesotans of investments in quality early care and education. Her leadership for strategic alliances and innovative system changes helped Minnesota secure a U.S. Department of Education grant to adapt financing strategies of the U.S. higher education system to early care and education, contributing to the development of Minnesota’s Parent Aware program quality rating system and Early Learning Scholarships.

The loves of Nancy’s life are hanging out with her “above average” grandkids, kids and significant others, singing, playing bridge, travel, movies, dance and theater, biking to work and making waffles at the cabin.

Interesting Fact

I’m a former synchronized swimmer.

Favorite Local Restaurant

There are too many to choose just one but I do love The Craftsman.

Favorite Movie

Bull Durham

Woman I Admire

Shirley Chisholm