John grew up just north of Markham and graduated from Queen's University in Kingston with a master's degree in public administration. He's called Toronto home for 35 years, most of which have been spent living in Cabbagetown. Always interested in politics, John dreamed of working for the government or a related agency after graduating from university.
His first job was in East York as a receptionist at the True Davidson Acres Home for the Aged. A few years later, he accepted an administrative role with the Ontario Association of Homes for the Aged before moving on to the Ontario Bar Association. John then worked as an assistant to several Toronto Board of Education trustees, including Pam McConnell, Keith Baird and Fran Endicott before successfully running to become one himself. John, Toronto's first openly gay school trustee, served two, three-year terms representing the "Downtown Ward" from 1992 to 1997.
During his tenure, he said he was able to do "some amazing stuff" as a lot of his work focused on equity, inclusivity and diversity and helping marginalized students succeed. John played a key role in setting up the 19-year-old Triangle Program, Canada's only high school for at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students, which is located in Riverdale within Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto near Gerrard Street East and Logan Avenue. He also saw a problem in the school setting, queer youth were being bullied and dropping out.
To this day, he continues to serve as a member of the alternative school's council and said he hopes to build stronger connections with the school and the Ralph Thornton Centre in his new role as executive director. As a school trustee, John, along with fellow trustee Tam Goossen, was also instrumental in setting up the international language programs. He was also very involved in establishing nutrition programs at schools.
Having been so closely involved in the school system, John next move was to go back to school to become a teacher. After obtaining his bachelor of education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, he landed his first teaching job as a community outreach educator at Dundas Public School in Riverdale. While there, John fought hard to keep the school open in light of the Mike Harris government's funding cuts among other things.
He then moved on to Ryerson Community School near Kensington Market where he taught English as a Second Language classes to students in Grades 6 to 8 as well as Grades 1 and 2. "Those two years were probably the most challenging years of my career, but that's where I learned about the importance of supportive colleagues," he shared. In 2003, John moved on to head Social Planning Toronto, an independent voice for social and economic justice, equity and inclusion, linking research with community action.
His history and affinity for RTC goes back to his early days living in Toronto when he called north Riverdale home. From the late 70s to the mid-80s, John volunteered and eventually wrote and published the now defunct 7 News, which at one point had its offices at RTC. John recalled spending long hours at the centre pumping out pages.
A reformed couch potato, Campey has completed 17 marathons, including the Boston Marathon. He also climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2008.
In 2011 John Campey, along with James Ryan and Leanne Iskander, was awarded the Hope & Freedom Award during a high tea ceremony in support of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC).
Today John is the Executive Director for Social Planning Toronto. He is an active member of the Triangle Community Council, lending his wisdom at monthly meetings to help increase the school's vision and finacial barriers. He is married to Jefferson Guzman.