Johanna Gilligan is an entrepreneur, educator and developer whose work fosters stronger social cohesion and healthier communities.

Working in post-Katrina New Orleans, she founded Grow Dat Youth Farm, a space for employment, education and leadership development for young adults. Previously a golf course, it is now the largest farm in the city and a place where young adults enhance their social, emotional, and ecological intelligence through shared work growing food. Prior to that she collaborated with middle-school students on an approach to school food reform that generated national attention for its innovative approach and hard-hitting success, profiled on HBO’s “Weight of the Nation.”

Johanna is now the Director of Community Development for Homewise, a CDFI and developer in New Mexico. Her work spans Santa Fe and Albuquerque–two cities struggling with very different challenges. In Albuquerque, she is working on commercial redevelopment projects that increase public safety, provide opportunities for inclusive economic development, address issues of substance use disorder, and foster cultural preservation. In Santa Fe, her projects foster livelier, more walkable and affordable neighborhoods.

In addition to being a Loeb Fellow, Johanna was a Rockefeller Urban Innovation Fellow at Tulane University. Her additional awards include  the City Park Presidential Award (‘12), the Newcomb Young Alumnae Award (‘14), the Scott Cowen Tulane Service Award (‘16), Gambit’s 40 under 40 (‘17) and City Business Woman of the Year (‘15). Her work has appeared in HBO, NPR, the Washington Post, Architectural Record, CityLab and Grist. She is a contributor to Huffington Post and Shelterforce.


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