David L. Johnson

David Johnson

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Brookings Metro

David L. Johnson is a nationally recognized economic development strategist and practitioner. Brookings’s Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak, in their 2017 study on regional economic development, The New Localism, gave extended attention to the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) in Indianapolis, focusing on Johnson’s leadership role in making CICP into “one of the most impactful business and civic leadership groups in the nation.” CICP is a collaborative non-profit corporation bringing together the chief executives of the region’s leading corporations, universities and philanthropic foundations to identify, fund and activate best prospects and projects for continued growth. In a 2018 Brookings Metro report, Rethinking Cluster Initiatives, Joseph Parilla singled out CICP for a case study as “the rare organization that can seed several high-capacity industry interventions that address the weaknesses and build on the strengths of Central Indiana’s regional economy.”

Johnson has been involved in the hands-on work of regional economic development for more than 20 years. He led CICP as CEO from 2013 through 2022, and also co-founded and led BioCrossroads, CICP’s first advanced industry initiative focused on building out the region’s substantial life sciences cluster, from 2002 through 2018. Under Johnson’s active management, CICP has established or grown three additional industry cluster initiatives. It has also launched one of the nation’s premier, employer-led workforce and talent development organizations, Ascend Indiana. Since 2015, CICP has driven the formation, capitalization and successful redevelopment of the region’s first innovation district, called 16 Tech, which makes up 50 acres of formerly blighted real estate near the heart of downtown Indianapolis, in collaboration with several of the city’s historically underserved neighborhoods. More recently, Johnson has led efforts to bring corporate and research university leaders together in a new initiative—AnalytixIN—to assemble compelling data-science assets and pursue credible regional opportunities to draw the talent required at all levels to put disruptive technologies, like artificial intelligence and data analytics, to constructive work.

Earlier at BioCrossroads, Johnson led the organization and capitalization of five seed and early-stage venture capital funds to advance locally based life sciences start-ups.  He also drove the formation of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, a major industry-university applied research collaborative, and OrthoWorx Indiana, a spin-out organization focused on northern Indiana’s historically outsized concentration in the orthopedics device sector. Along the way, Johnson has built a track record of trust and alignment across a wide array of corporate and community executives, university presidents and scholars, philanthropic foundation leaders and elected officials.

Prior to his leadership roles with CICP and BioCrossroads, Johnson worked as a public finance lawyer and business counsel, representing both governments and corporations in complex, public-private partnerships and economic development transactions. He was also a frequent volunteer in community projects and political campaigns.

He is currently a board chair at 16 Tech Community Corporation, Inc. and formerly served as the president and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Inc. and as a Legal Counsel and Professional Staff Member for United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


Johnson earned his juris doctor at Harvard Law School, master’s degree at New College, Oxford University and bachelor’s degree at Harvard University.

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