Meet Our Staff


Johnisha Levi

Grants Specialist & Content Creator
Hometown: Nashville, TN

Johnisha’s approach to collaborating with Elevate clients is informed by her prior diverse experiences working alongside and at nonprofits. As the former Development Manager for The Nashville Food Project, she successfully secured foundation, corporate, and government grants to support programming that alleviates food insecurity, builds community, and creates a more just and sustainable food system. Prior to that, Johnisha managed a community-based culinary nutrition program active in 10 major cities that focused on the health of individuals of African descent. In addition to forging vital new community partnerships and conducting trainings for community leaders, she wrote and piloted a children’s version of a six-week culturally relevant curriculum. As a practicing attorney at a top 50 law firm in DC, she devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono legal work to a host of nonprofit causes. During law school, she also worked on behalf of incarcerated individuals seeking post-conviction relief, including with Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Johnisha thrives as a generalist, and has therefore relished the opportunity to collaborate with a range of impressive nonprofits with missions that seek to promote or improve early childhood education, child welfare, environmental justice, racial justice, health equity, and adult literacy. As a Grants Specialist at Elevate, she advises clients on funding strategy, and works to strengthen existing language and develop language for new and innovative programming.

Johnisha has also contributed to Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives at her workplaces. Largely due to her efforts, The Nashville Food Project launched a standing committee composed of both Board and staff members to drive a comprehensive, organizational approach to DEI. She also served on Elevate’s Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility and Justice (IDEA + J) working group.

Johnisha was a recipient of the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Sam Howard Empowerment Fund for emerging leaders of color in the nonprofit sector and a LongHouse Food Media Scholar. She has published articles focused on social and racial justice in Yes! Media and is working on a memoir. She holds a JD from New York University School of Law, a BA from Harvard College, and an AAS from Johnson & Wales University.

What is your hidden talent?

I have an insanely fine-tuned sense of when cooking timers are going to go off. This is no doubt because of time I've spent in commercial kitchens. If I am in another room, my internal alert typically goes off within about 90 seconds of a timer beeping.

What punctuation mark would you be and why?

I love the em dash. It is underutilized (well, not in my writing) and allows you to elaborate without cutting off your thoughts.

What is your grammatical pet peeve?

I try to be as open-minded as possible about grammar, because no one is perfect. Having said that, I do notice that people assume "I' is always correct over "me." I don't mind this so much in normal conversation, but it does bother me when a character on TV who is supposed to be a journalist or some other kind of writer mixes this up. Doesn't seem very credible.

What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

The best way to spend a weekend day is with a good book in hand and a nice, home-cooked meal accompanied by some (usually natural) wine.

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