Politician, Entrepreneur, Investor
Kevin Johnson currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Seven Ventures, a consulting and investment firm that works across a variety of industries including sports, governmental affairs, real estate development and technology. In this role, he served as the interim President of Hu Honua Bioenergy, a Hawai’i based biomass company, and led the organization through the approval of a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) that had previously been cancelled. He was also an integral part of the city of Sacramento’s bid to secure a Major League Soccer (MLS) team for Sacramento Soccer Entertainment Holdings which includes the construction of a new downtown stadium with a projected budget of $425 million. Through Seven Ventures, Johnson is also engaged in a real estate development project in Phoenix, Arizona which includes nearly 250 new residential units.
Prior to this, Mr. Johnson was elected as two-term Mayor of the capital of California, a city with 479,686 residents, an annual budget of over $951 million and 4,500 employees. As the first African American Mayor elected, he worked to successfully prevent the relocation of the city’s only professional sports franchise (the Sacramento Kings) leading to an agreement between a new ownership group and the City to value the team at $535 million and build a new downtown sports and entertainment complex for a total deal of nearly $1B. The new arena and surrounding development will create 4,100 permanent jobs and create $11.5B in regional economic activity over the next 35 years with no new taxes and no net impact to the City’s general fund. Johnson also led the city to secure hundreds of millions in federal grants, cut more than $234 million from the city’s structural budget imbalance while more than doubling the budget reserve, reduced homelessness by 16% while assisting 2,500 households into permanent housing and launched the “Greenwise Sacramento” initiative in 2010, which resulted in the city having the state’s second highest clean tech job growth and the nation’s third highest concentration of green jobs and the naming of Sacramento as one of the first five cities in the President’s Better Buildings Challenge.
While serving as Mayor, Mr. Johnson also led several national organizations representing mayors. As President of the US Conference of Mayors, Mr. Johnson was responsible for setting a national vision for member Mayors of the organization, a non-partisan organization of cities whose Mayors represent approximately 50% of the nation’s population. As the Founding President of the African American Mayors Association, he led a comprehensive national effort to create a new nonprofit organization representing African American Mayors, established a “Business Council” to further private sector partnerships and led membership recruitment efforts, and presided over the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the organization. Finally, Johnson also served as the President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, leading to the overhaul of the organization after major incidents of waste, fraud and abuse.
In 1989, Mr. Johnson founded St. HOPE, a community development corporation focused on public education, economic development, civic leadership and the arts in Oak Park, one of the most troubled communities in Sacramento. Through his leadership, Sacramento High School became one of the highest performing high schools in California that serves a population of more than 50% African American students. St. HOPE’s other charter school, PS7, was named California Charter School of the Year in 2012. St. HOPE also catalyzed the development of 210 new housing units and 220 permanent jobs in the Oak Park community.
Drafted as the 7th overall pick in the 1987 NBA draft Mr. Johnson played with the Cleveland Cavaliers until traded mid-season his rookie year to the Phoenix Suns. There, he played in the position of point guard for the team for 12 years garnering significant awards and honors including being named an NBA All-Star for three years, becoming the Suns’ all-time leader in assists (6,518), free-throws made (3,851) and free-throws attempted (4,579) and receiving a gold medal in the 1994 World Championship games with the “Dream Team II”.
Mr. Johnson has served in leadership and board positions for several national organizations including the University of California, Berkeley Foundation (Trustee), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Board Member), US Department of Education Mayor’s Taskforce (Chairman) and Resilient Communities for America Campaign (Chairperson).
Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has received numerous awards and recognitions including being named the 411th Point of Light by President George Bush, selected one of the “15 Greatest Men on Earth” by McCall’s Magazine, NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, the “Good Morning America” Award from Sports Illustrated, “Most Caring American” award by the Caring Institute, NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, USGBC Richard M. Daley Legacy Award for Global Leadership in Creating Sustainable Cities, Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor, World Sports Hall of Fame, NBA Legend Award and being nominated to the NBA Hall of Fame. He still resides in his hometown of Sacramento with his wife, Michelle Rhee.