Nancy Johnson is an independent consultant whose track record of innovative leadership, convening community stakeholders and forming strategic alliances spans 35 years. Specializing in advancing child care and early education policy, Nancy has provided executive leadership for the statewide Child Care Resource and Referral Network and Minnesota’s Child Care Works coalition.

Nancy’s involvement in diverse partnerships includes the Culturally Relevant Anti-Bias Leadership Training Project and the statewide task force for Minnesota’s Cultural Dynamics Training Law.

Nancy led development of the inner city Strong Beginnings Program, the Child Care Apprentice/ Mentor Program, and MN TEACH early childhood scholarships. She also facilitated the statewide task force that created the foundation for a Quality Rating and Improvement System for Minnesota.

As director of the Minnesota Child Care Financing Project, Nancy led development of an online calculator to help parents afford child care by accessing tax credits, subsidies, and scholarships for which they qualify. Nancy also led research on the economic impacts of child care in Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
Academic Background and Affiliations
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and Public Policy, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • National Head Start Fellowship, Washington, D.C.
  • Head Start Performance Review Teams
  • Presenter at state and national early childhood conferences
  • ECE system finance reform national planning committee
  • Accreditation validator National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Reliability Certification in the CLASS pre-k - third grade classroom assessment tool

Research Reports
  • Moving Beyond A Cycle of Crisis: The Inner City Child Care Marketplace
  • Child Care Use in Minnesota: County by County Statistics for Accessibility, Affordability and Quality
  • The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in Minneapolis
  • The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in Hennepin County
  • The ABC’s of QRS in Minnesota

Professional and Community Involvement
  • Board of Child Care WORKS
  • Board Emeritus, Ready 4
  • Volunteer, Open Arms food service for people living with long term illness
  • YWCA It’s Time To Talk About Racism Steering Committee
  • Board of Interfaith Service to Latin America

Executive Leadership

• Caring for Kids Initiative:
Executive director of a community scholarship model funded by the business-led Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. CFKI partnered a suburban school district pre-K program, a local non-profit social services agency, and private child care programs participating in the Parent Aware QRIS pilot.

• Child Care WORKS:
Directed the statewide child care public policy coalition, built a network of supporters, relationships with legislators, their staff, the Governor’s office and the media, developed outreach and public education campaigns and won significant increases for Child Care Sliding Fee subsidies.

• Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network
As executive director, provided vision and leadership for increasing the quality, efficiency, and cultural competence of CCR&R services in Minnesota. Included working with the statewide board and overseeing administration of the CCR&R Network office, programs, budget, fundraising, public education, and public policy.

• Minnesota Child Care Financing Project
Funded through a federal Department of
Education grant, the CCFP created an online estimator to provide parents with immediate and confidential child care financing options.

Policy and Project Experience

• The Minnesota Early Care and Education Finance Commission:
Convened and staffed the commission, provided research and supported the commission’s work, and facilitated agreement among the 40 legislators, business leaders and early education stakeholders on a Five-Year Action Plan for Early Care and Education in Minnesota.

• Minnesota Quality Rating and Improvement System Task Force.
Co-convened and facilitated the statewide
QRIS Task Force. Helped pass QRIS legislation that, though vetoed by the Governor, is the foundation of the current MELF Parent Aware QRIS pilot.

• Thinking Between Systems: Think Tank on Adapting Higher Education Financing Strategies for Early Education
Conceived and hosted a 2 day working meeting between college financial aid experts and early childhood system experts. The think tank recommendations spearheaded a national conversation on early childhood system financing.

• Strong Beginnings:
Convened community child care centers in Hennepin County around a policy framework to prepare disadvantaged preschoolers for kindergarten and stabilize inner city programs. Strong Beginning’s strong impacts on children’s kindergarten readiness were achieved through a combination of high quality standards and reimbursement rates based on the costs of quality.