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Mayor Paul Soglin announced today that Dan Johnson has been selected as the recipient of the seventh annual Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award.

The award was created by the Common Council to honor a Madison resident who exemplifies Jeff Erlanger’s model of fairness, openness, and civility in public discourse. Jeff, who passed away in 2007, was committed to public service and understood the importance of bringing people of differing opinions together through civil debate and constructive advocacy. Mr. Erlanger chaired the City of Madison’s Commission on People with Disabilities and served on the Economic Development Commission in addition to other community activities.

Dan Johnson served on the City of Madison Transportation Commission and the city Commission on People with Disabilities. He was employed for many years as the Physical Disabilities Coordinator at the State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Among his many volunteer activities, he served on the board of the World Institute on Disability and as a member of the Children and Disability Task Force for the Social Security Administration. Mr. Johnson was also a member of the Wisconsin delegation at the signing ceremony for the Americans with Disabilities Act. On a personal note, he has been a foster parent for over 20 local children and eventually adopted six of them. In both his professional and volunteer endeavors, Dan Johnson worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. As someone who worked with Dan over the years said, "Among Dan's numerous attributes are his ability to relate to people in a kind way. He is genteel and soft-spoken while at the same time Dan communicates his messages clearly."

"Dan Johnson has made a difference in so many lives in our community, state, and even our nation. We are especially fortunate to have had him as a member of two of our city commissions. Dan always remembered that everyone, not just people with disabilities, would benefit when access is guaranteed to everyone. He worked with many others to further the goal of inclusion for all, always in a constructive and courteous manner," stated Mayor Paul Soglin.

"We are very grateful to the Mayor and Common Council for continuing the tradition of this award," said Pam Erlanger, Jeff’s mother. "We are so pleased that it honors Dan Johnson who contributed immeasurably to improving the lives of people with disabilities in our community while exemplifying the values and approach that Jeff stood for."

The Erlanger Award is presented annually at a Common Council meeting close to Jeff Erlanger’s birthday, November 30. This year it will be presented at the December 3 meeting of the Madison Common Council.


  • Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611
Vision & Awards