The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership reflects GSPIA’s commitment to producing professionals who adhere to the highest standards of ethics and public accountability. The Johnson Institute provides students, faculty and the community at large with opportunities to engage in disciplined reflections and rigorous inquiry on issues of ethics and accountability that are of particular interest to the public and nonprofit sectors.

Our Mission

The mission of the Johnson Institute is to enhance professional and institutional ethics and accountability in public leadership. We accomplish this mission through an integrated portfolio of programs including:

Teaching: The Johnson Institute provides classroom instruction and experiential learning opportunities for GSPIA students and for experienced public service executives. The Leadership Portfolio Program is a 15 month leadership development program for exceptionally promising and motivated students. 


Research: The Johnson Institute conducts basic and applied research on leadership and accountability in public service leading to publications in top journals. We also regularly publish case studies profiling the accomplishments of winners of our Exemplary Leader Award. The cases are available for classroom use here and at other institutions.

Outreach: The Johnson Institute promotes discussion and debate on timely public policy issues that involve leadership in the public sector. When possible also provide leadership consulting services, usually free of charge, to public and nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Clinic gives graduate students the opportunity to serve as management consultants to nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region.


These three aspects of the Johnson Institute mission work in concert to enhance the quality of public leadership in government, nonprofit, and nongovernmental organizations in Pittsburgh, the Nation, and abroad.

Upcoming Events
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Featured Video
Leadership Portfolio Video
The Johnson Institute’s Leadership Portfolio Program (LPP) provides a select group of exceptional students with classroom and community-based opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and credentials.  Students reflect on their experience in the program.

Recent News
October 31, 2016

On October 19, 2016, the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership at GSPIA gave its annual Emerging Leader Award to Alec Karakatsanis. Alec is the founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps which provides pro bono legal services to those most in need and works to change the systemic issues that create unjustifiable inequalities in the criminal legal system. Prior to this, Alec co-founded Equal Justice Under Law, a non-profit organization dedicated to “ensuring that the legal system protects the important principles of human and civil rights, equality, and fairness.”

October 28, 2016

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is offering free consulting services to nonprofit organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Organizations selected for the program will be assigned advanced-level graduate student consultants for approximately 11-weeks between January-April 2017 at no cost to the organization. 

October 26, 2016

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is pleased to release its 2016 annual report featuring exemplars of leadership, teaching, research, and the ongoing public service efforts of the institute.

August 11, 2016

The Allegheny Conference has announced that Rosamaria Cristello (MPPM) is the inaugural recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Award Scholarship. Cristello is the director of the Latino Family Center in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

August 08, 2016

It is with great sadness that we announce the recent passing of Glen R. Johnson, good friend and benefactor of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Glen passed away Monday, August 1, peacefully and with his family by his side. Glen was an extraordinary leader in all three sectors – government, business and nonprofit. He was beloved as a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know and work with Glen have lost an inspiring mentor. We will honor his memory by continuing the important work of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, LaVonne, and to Glen’s family. We are planning to honor Glen’s extraordinary life during one of our upcoming events this fall. Until then, you may share your thoughts and notes of condolence with Glen’s family by visiting

Featured Research

The Johnson Institute’s Case Study Series features the outstanding accomplishments of the Institute’s Exemplary Leadership Award Winners. This is the fifth case study in the exemplary leader series and it documents the leadership of Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh from 1996 to 2014. Read more.

Featured Publications
Johnson Institute Announces 2016 Annual Report

The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is pleased to release its 2016 annual report featuring exemplars of leadership, teaching, research, and the ongoing public service efforts of the institute.


Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership
3917 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260