The Nation Watches as Upward Bound Alumna Cheryl Johnson Serves as Interim Leader of the Speaker-less U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Cheryl L. Johnson will serve as the U.S. House of Representatives chair until a candidate wins a majority of Members and becomes House Speaker.

As she temporarily presides over one of the most powerful legislative bodies on Earth, Cheryl L. Johnson makes history with each passing vote.

An alumna of the Upward Bound program at Loyola University, Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa and her law degree from Howard University. She is also a graduate of the senior management program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Johnson worked for more than twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives. In her time on Capitol Hill, Johnson was the Chief Education and Investigative Counsel for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. She served as a principal policy advisor and spokesperson for the Committee and as Director and Counsel for the Committee on House Administration’s Subcommittee on Libraries and Memorials. In this capacity, she worked with the Subcommittee chair to exercise oversight and legislative responsibility over the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. She then helped direct the Office of Government Relations at the Smithsonian Institute for a decade.

Along with the other House officers, the Clerk is elected every two years when the House organizes a new Congress. Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Johnson to serve as Clerk in 2019. The Constitution requires the first act of any new Congress to select a Speaker of the House. As of this writing, this process is still underway.

At present, there are four TRIO alumni in the U.S. House of Representatives: Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), Ilhan Oman (D-MN-05), and Nikema Williams (D-GA-05). Additionally, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is also a TRIO alumnus.

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