Our Team

Team Grow Dat

– Johanna Gilligan


Johanna Gilligan
(504) 377-8395

Johanna Gilligan has worked in the field of food education since 2003. She began her career at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where she taught inquiry-based plant science to students in Title 1 schools. In 2006 she moved back to New Orleans and worked as the Educational Programs Manager with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network while simultaneously launching her own business, Clean Plate Projects, LLC. As a consultant, she has worked  with many organizations, most notably with Rethink–a non-profit whose mission is to develop civic engagement among youth by bringing their voice to school reform. Her school food reform work with Rethink students generated national attention for its innovative approach and hard-hitting successes, eventually being profiled on the HBO documentary series, “Weight of the Nation”. Johanna founded Grow Dat Youth Farm in collaboration with Tulane University and many additional partners and individuals in 2011. Johanna was a 2012 Urban Innovation Challenge Fellow at Tulane University, and has also been a finalist for Echoing Green and the Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Society Fellowship. In 2012 she was a nominee for City Business Woman of the Year and a recipient of City Park’s Presidential Awards.

– Leo Gorman


Leo Gorman
(504) 616-1777

Leo Gorman taught social studies at Warren Easton High School and ran market gardens near Xavier University. He has interned multiples seasons on three organic vegetable farms and has worked as an educator, youth organizer and photojournalist throughout Latin America and the United States. Leo is thrilled to be part of a project that merges his passions for youth empowerment, community education and sustainable agriculture. He loves to grow stuff and eat it with friends and family.

- Jabari Brown

– Jabari Brown


Jabari Brown
(601) 260-0509

Jabari Brown has been gardening organically for the last three years. It was a strong desire to give back to his community and sustainability that drew him to gardening. His motto is: “What good am I if I can’t teach others what I have learned?”. Serving at Grow Dat Youth Farm, he has the awesome opportunity to teach students about gardening while also learning from master gardeners.

– Jeanne Firth


Jeanne Firth
(913) 515-6892

Jeanne holds a Master of Science in Gender, Development and Globalization from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor of Specialized Studies in Peace and Conflict Studies from Cornell College. Previously she served as the Co-Chair of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee and lectured as an adjunct Professor with the Payson School for International Development at Tulane University. Jeanne has worked with food and social justice projects in San Francisco, including Mission Pie, Global Exchange and Brava for Women in the Arts. Using a justice-based approach to food systems and a critical lens, she is interested in how food issues intersect with gender, race and location. Jeanne is proud that farming connects her to many generations of her family who continue to farm on the Kansas prairie. She is honored to be a founding staff member of the committed and innovative Grow Dat team.

– Sarah Howard


Sarah Howard
(504) 598-2743

Sarah Howard comes to Grow Dat with a background in community organizing and community health education. She learned about food justice issues in New Orleans while working on a campaign to re-open the historic Circle Food Store in the city’s 7th Ward. While helping to start a community garden in the neighborhood, she also rediscovered a love for growing food. Sarah gained additional skills in sustainable agricultural production through apprenticing with local urban farmer Macon Fry and at the Full Sun Farm in Big Sandy Mush, North Carolina. Sarah holds a BA in Studies of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and African American Studies from Harvard University. She is a student of herbal medicine and is a certified Louisiana Master Naturalist.

– Chrissy Purcell


Chrissy Purcell
(504) 331-8598

Chrissy Anne Purcell is a lifelong resident of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. After graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School, she began pursuit of a dual undergraduate degree in Political Science and Sociology at Howard University. While in college, Chrissy began cultivating her leadership skills when she volunteered for three years as a member and Fundraising Coordinator with a non-profit mentoring sisterhood, Jewels, Inc. After all of the meaningful time and work Chrissy completed at Howard, she found herself amiss when funding for her last year of undergraduate studies at Howard University ran out. Dejected, she returned home to continue her education at Southern University of New Orleans.  Ultimately, she believes it was fate that caused her to return to New Orleans and led her to the Operations Manager position at Grow Dat. Chrissy lives by the Erma Bombeck quote: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” She has faith that her talents will be put to great use with Grow Dat.

- Christian Nguyen

– Christian Nguyen


Christian Nguyen
(504) 952-4965

Christian Nguyen is currently enrolled at Tulane University. Under the supervision of Tulane’s Accelerated Physicians Program, Christian possesses a mastery of various undergraduate-level science disciplines, particularly biology and psychology. With his acceptance into medical school, Christian aspires to one day become a practicing physician. Christian hopes to add to the diversity and versatility of the Grow Dat Youth Farm team with his unique background. Christian’s attraction to Grow Dat stems primarily from his interest in how medicine and food and justice social issues relate to one another. Though he still considers himself a novice at farming, he describes himself as an open book  eager to learn.

- Yasmin Davis

– Yasmin Davis


Yasmin Davis

Yasmin Davis is a Grow Dat graduate who joined our staff team in January 2013. Yasmin is currently a second-year student at
Tulane University ​majoring in Political Science and Latin American Studies with a minor in Sociology or Spanish. Yasmin was
nominated by Grow Dat for a highly competitive Posse scholarship which she won. Before joining our staff as a Crew Leader, Yasmin held almost every possible youth position: Crew Member, Assistant Crew Leader and Fall Intern.


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  1. Pingback: Field Report: AmeriCorps VISTA Jabari Brown Reports Back on Grow Dat | Grow Dat Youth Farm

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