Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, was born on 21 July 1944, at Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana and hailed from Ekumfi Otuam in the Mfantsiman East Constituency of the Central Region. He launched a lifelong interest in acquiring knowledge at Achimota Secondary School, where he obtained his General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level in 1963. To further his education, he attended the University of Ghana, Legon, where he received a bachelor's degree and professional certificate in Law (1967).
While earning a PhD in Law from the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, John Evans Atta Mills, was selected as a Fulbright scholar at the equally prestigious Stanford Law School in the United States of America. At age 27, he was awarded his PhD after successfully defending his doctoral thesis in the area of taxation and economic development.
Prof Mills' first formal teaching assignment was as a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon where he spent close to 25 years imparting knowledge (as well as other institutions of higher learning) rising from lecturer to senior lecturer then to associate professor. His contribution to intellectual development is remarkable having served on numerous boards and committees.
During the almost 30 years of teaching and researching, Prof Mills served as a visiting lecturer and professor at a number of educational institutions worldwide and presented research papers at symposiums and conferences throughout the world.
He traveled as visiting professor to the Temple Law School (Philadelphia, USA), with two stints from 1978 to 1979, and 1986 to 1987, and also as a visiting professor at Leiden University (Holland) from 1985 to 1986. During this period, he authored several publications relating to taxation during the 1970s & 1980s.
His expertise goes well beyond the classroom, and is evidenced by the various examiner positions he held with finance related institutions throughout Ghana (i.e. Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Bankers, Ghana Tax Review Commission). As an advocate for recreation and an active sportsman and sports fan, Professor Mills has supported the academic community and the nation at large through his contribution to the Ghana Hockey Association, National Sports Council of Ghana, and Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club.
The Law Professor loves sports and he is a keen hockey player and once played for the national team and is still member of the Veterans Hockey Team He equally keeps his body in shape by swimming, spending close to two hours every day when he has time.
Outside of his academic pursuits, Professor Mills was the Acting Commissioner of Ghana's Internal Revenue Service from 1986 to 1993, and the substantive Commissioner from 1993 to 1996. By 1992, he had become an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Ghana.
In the 1996 Presidential Election, Jerry John Rawlings selected Mills as his Vice-President in his bid for re-election to a second term as Ghana’s president. Rawlings was re-elected to his second term in office, and Mills became Vice-President of Ghana between 1996 to 2000.
In December 2002, John Evans Atta Mills was elected by his party to be its flag bearer and led them into the 2004 elections. John Evans Atta Mills was re-elected in December 2006 to once again have the mandate to lead his party into the 2008 general elections.
On January 3rd 2009, Professor Mills was declared President-Elect in the 2008 elections and was sworn in on January 7th, 2009 as the Third President of the Republic of Ghana.
He was until his death the presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress for the 2012 presidential election.
He was married to Ernestina Naadu Mills, an educationist, and has a son, Sam Kofi Atta Mills.