A photo of a person standing in front of a colorful image of tropical fish.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson speaks during the Unplugged Session at TED2019: Bigger Than Us. April 15 - 19, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo by Ryan Lash / TED

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

New York
Threshold Fellowship, 2021 - 2023

A portrait of Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Lead Threshold Fellow

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. Currently, she is working on a book offering a vision of what our world could look like if we race together toward climate solutions at the intersection of science, policy, culture, and justice. Painting a picture of a thriving world—a replenished, transformed, loving world—the book aims to show us that it is worth the effort, and the overhaul, to get there together. With the working title What If We Get it Right?: Visions of Climate Futurism, it forms the cornerstone of a multimedia project of the inaugural Threshold Fellowship cohort.

Dr. Johnson is co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities, and co-creator of the Spotify climate podcast How to Save a Planet. She co-edited the bestselling climate anthology All We Can Save and co-founded The All We Can Save Project. Recently, she co-authored the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. Previously, she was executive director of the Waitt Institute and developed policy at the EPA and NOAA. Dr. Johnson earned a BA from Harvard University in environmental science and public policy, and a PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology. She is on the Time 100 Next 2021 list and Outside magazine called her “the climate leader we need.”