By Roadtrip Nation

Rukiya Curvey Johnson


My road in life took a while to figure out.
My goal was to work in sports and entertainment marketing, so I took on internships at music agencies and helped plan concerts during college.
After graduating, I worked at BET (Black Entertainment Television) in their public relations department—I planned events, opened restaurants, and worked on magazines and TV shows.
I moved to New York to work at a boutique marketing agency, where I primarily worked in sports marketing.
I eventually decided that I wanted to help clients make big decisions rather than just taking on their requests, so I went back to school for my MBA with a focus in brand marketing.
While in graduate school, I volunteered at a halfway house for mothers recovering from drug addiction—the experience shifted my interests and I changed my major to nonprofit management.
I was running a Black-owned cultural center and bookstore when my younger brother was murdered—the loss propelled me into K-12 education in order to help make a difference in young people’s lives.
I got a job with Chicago Public Schools, working my way up from director of teaching and learning, to director of school improvement, to executive director of STEM and strategic initiatives.
After nine years at Chicago Public Schools, I joined Rush University Medical Center as the executive director of the Rush Education and Career Hub, creating opportunities in STEM and healthcare.
Keep following my journey


High School
Psychology & Spanish
University of Virginia
Nonprofit Management
University of Michigan - Stephen M. Ross School of Business


Executive Director of Rush Education and Career Hub

I lead the work of addressing social determinants of health.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Helping People

Day to Day

I meet with our leaders to help with the various community development initiatives they're working on. I'll also meet with leaders for the Rush Education and Career Hub to work on planning and program development for any given season we're in. For example, during back-to-school time, we'll meet with principals to discuss their schools' family and community engagement planning. I help develop programming for our college students. I'll also present our work at conferences and workshops.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Get some experience in project management or event planning. The ability to lead a project that has an end goal and a deadline is key. Volunteer to plan your office's holiday party or take a leadership role on a project for a club you're in. These are good first steps to gain experience for this career.


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"Should I be doing this? I don't think I'm qualified to be in this role."

Challenges I Overcame

Death and Loss