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Ayana Elizabeth Johnson          

Founder & CEO of Ocean Collectiv; Marine Biologist and Conservation Strategist

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is the founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a strategy consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future of coastal cities. With Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, she co-edited the anthology All We Can Save, and co-founded The All We Can Save Project.

Recently, Johnson co-created the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. For three years, she taught a seminar on urban ocean conservation as an adjunct professor at New York University. She curates and hosts the Science & Society series at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

Previously, as executive director of the Waitt Institute, Johnson co-founded the Blue Halo Initiative and led the Caribbean’s first successful island-wide ocean zoning effort, resulting in the protection of one-third of Barbuda’s coastal waters. She then led the growth of this initiative, launching it on Curaçao and Montserrat, in partnership with the governments and stakeholders. Prior to that position, she was the Director of Science and Solutions at the Waitt Foundation, managing a diverse portfolio of ocean grants. She has also held policy positions in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Her volunteer work focuses on building community. Johnson was co-director of partnerships for the March for Science, creating a coalition of over 300 organizations that inspired over 1 million people around the world to take to the streets to support the role of science in policymaking. She serves on the board of directors for the Billion Oyster Project, GreenWave, and World Surf League's PURE, on the advisory boards of Environmental Voter Project, Evergreen Action, Scientific American, Science Sandbox, Azul, and Oceanic Global, and as a fellow at The Explorers Club. To develop a local network of ocean professionals, she founded Team Ocean NYC. She is a committed mentor for the next generation of conservation leaders.

Johnson earned her bachelor's degree from Harvard University in environmental science and public policy, and holds a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology, with a dissertation on the ecology, socio-economics, and policy of sustainably managing coral reefs. For her research, she was awarded fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Switzer Foundation, and American Association of University Women. The fish trap she invented to reduce bycatch won the first Rare/National Geographic Solution Search. She has been a resident at TED, a scholar at the Aspen Institute, a fellow at Emerson Collective, a science scholar at Pioneer Works, and named to the Grist 50, UCSD 40 Under 40 Alumni, and Elle’s 27 Women Leading on Climate. Outside Magazine called her “the most influential marine biologist of our time.”

She is the proud daughter of a teacher/farmer and an architect/potter. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Outside Magazine, and Nature magazine. Her op-eds have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Huffington Post, and she blogs on Scientific American. She is a passionate advocate for coastal communities and builds solutions for ocean justice and our climate crisis.


Racism derails our attempts to fight the climate crisis - The ...

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy advisor, and Brooklyn native. She is founder and CEO of the consultancy Ocean Collectiv, founder of the ...

The Inseparable Link Between Climate Change And Racial Justice ...

Marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson wrote a Washington Post op-ed about the ways the fight around climate change and racial justice go hand in hand.

We Can't Solve the Climate Crisis Unless Black Lives Matter | Time

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. July 9, 2020 6:28 AM EDT. Johnson is a marine biologist, founder of Urban Ocean Lab and co-editor of All We Can Save: Truth, ...

They edited a book about the climate crisis. Here's what they learned.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, left, and Katharine Wilkinson, editors of the anthology “ All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis.

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