Sarah Johnson's environmental advocacy began more than three decades ago when she lobbied Congress for clean air and water with The Garden Club of America. Through activism,advocacy, and philanthropy she has focused on education, the environment, organic farming, and gender equity issues. Born in New Jersey, Johnson moved to San Francisco in her early teens. Her father established Franklin Templeton Investments and her mother is a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist. Johnson attended St. Lawrence University in upstate New York and studied biology. After graduating in 1982, Johnson worked as a portfolio manager overseeing the Franklin Income Fund until marrying and starting a family, later establishing a children's clothing business. In 2002, Johnson and her parents donated $10 million to St. Lawrence University—As Vice Chair of the Universities Capital Campaign, the largest gift it had received up to that date—for a new science complex; the Johnson Hall of Science, the first Gold-certified LEED building in New York State, opened in 2007. Johnson most recently (June 30th, 2021) just completed chairing their current campaign and raising $233 million for the University .
Johnson turned to film production as a means to highlight issues important to her and to reach a much broader audience with the intent of changing minds and encouraging activism.
Her social issue documentaries include the Academy Awards nominated The Square, Chasing Ice and The Invisible War, as well as the critically acclaimed The Hunting Ground and Living In Emergency: Stories Of Doctors Without Borders, No Impact Man, The Great Hack ,and most recently After Antartica.
In 2011, Johnson's generosity helped establish the Center for Climate and Life at Columbia University. Her interest in the Center for Climate and Life stems from her belief that the pioneering climate research advanced by Center scientists is key to understanding our planet and accelerating climate solutions. When Johnson first joined the Lamont board in 2009, Lamont had historically received most of its funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. military agencies. Yet the federal funding landscape was changing dramatically and diversifying Lamont's research funding portfolio became a priority.
Johnson confronted these issues over five years and helped Lamont develop a financial strategy. She met with Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia, to emphasize Lamont's value to the scientific community, the university as a whole, and the timeliness of expanding and enhancing climate research. Her leadership resulted in Columbia recognizing and championing the value of Lamont, and also committing resources to help launch the Center for Climate and Life.. She was the Center's first major donor and grasped the importance of its mission from the beginning, even before the climate crisis had become a part of the collective conscience. She has since used her background in finance and business, and passion for activism to drive its growth and advance its impact.
Johnson then began to increase her environmental and social activism by backing and producing notable films.
Her social issue documentaries include the Academy Awards nominated The Square, Chasing Ice and The Invisible War, as well as the critically acclaimed The Hunting Ground and Living In Emergency: Stories Of Doctors Without Borders, No Impact Man, The Last Mountain, The Great Hack ,and most recently After Antartica. Johnson is an executive producer on several notable films including Alejandro G. Inarritu's Birdman, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015; James Gray's period drama, The Immigrant; Guillaume Canet's crime thriller Blood Ties.
Johnson currently runs The Lozen Foundation which operates an organic farm ( White Feather Farm) a 501c3 in upstate NY as well as a myriad of other projects the foundation is engaged with..
White Feather Farm Foundation is a non profit dedicated to educating the local community and underserved populations about healthy food and organic farming practices as well as working with other organizations to research the use of plants and biochar for carbon sequestration and soil health.
Developed and Produced social issue documentaries as well as scripted theatrical films.
Vertically Integrated childrens clothing line. Manufactured in Indonesia.
Oversaw all investments for the Franklin income fund.
St Lawrence University Board of Trustees 1999-present
Earth Institute at Columbia
Center for Climate and Life at Columbia
Producers Guild of America- member
Television Academy Member
Woodstock Film Festival Board member.
Garden Club of America
The Ethel Walker School Vice ChairBoard andChair Capital Campaign
The Lamont Doherty Advisory Board at Columbia University
Board of Directors Mission Markets
Board Member The San Francisco Lyric Opera
Board Member The Hillbarn Theatre
2 Emmy's for Invisible War
Academy Award Birdman
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