Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Founder, Urban Ocean Lab & Ocean Collectiv

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is 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.

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. Prior, Johnson was 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).

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. Johnson earned a B.A. from Harvard University in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and 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. She is a passionate advocate for coastal communities, and builds solutions for ocean justice and our climate crisis.