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Joseph Givens is a political and community organizer with over 40 years of organizing experience, half of those years dedicated to developing the civic capacity of churches and communities of faith. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 he has been a consultant to the Advancement Project, the Atlanta Regional Council of Churches and the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference in their efforts to assist in recovery efforts in New Orleans. He is also working with Ambassador Andrew Young to develop a strategy to rebuild churches, synagogues and communities of faith in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

Givens began his work in 1972  leading organizing efforts for electoral, community and church based initiatives and campaigns, and in 1991 with a national faith based organization. Joe currently serves as the Executive Director of the Isaiah Institute in New Orleans. From 1991-2006 Givens worked with the People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO), serving as Director of its New Orleans affiliate, and on the National Training staff. 

Givens was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1972 and later received in 1977, from President Jimmy Carter, a Presidential Citation as one of 'Louisiana's Distinguished Vietnam-era Veterans".  Givens earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of New Orleans. Givens is married to a talented wife with four successful children, and resides in his native New Orleans.

Joseph "Joe" Givens

Executive Director

Sgt. John Johnson

Outreach Coordinator

Sgt. John Johnson works with the youth, young leaders and cross-sector partners to assist in the development of comprehensive long-range neighborhood revitalization plans. He instructs groups with Joe, incorporating the strategies identified in the IINO Strategic Plan to address the roles of Young Leadership and Community Engagement. Sgt. Johnson has served in the Army, completing five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Johnson helped link up the national nonprofit, Wounded Warrior Project, with local group The St. Bernard Project, to rebuild houses after the storm while giving injured veterans meaningful work. More than 300 homes were built.

Johnson is a highly decorated 36 year Veteran of the U.S. Army. He was an essential emergency responder, as part of the Special  Task Forces dispatched to rescue patients from Charity Hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was recognized with a Presidential Meritorious Service Medal for helping restore power at LSU Medical Center after the storm. 

He is a member of the Isaiah Institute, Martin Luther King Celebration Committee. and more recently, he helped found Icons for Peace in early 2014, which partners with the Isaiah Institute and trains its participants, who range from college graduates to convicted felons, to become community activists. 


Our Team

The Isaiah Institute of New Orleans delivers technical and organizing assistance and training opportunities to communities of faith, students and young adults.  Working with student leaders and members of communities of faith, we build partnerships and collaborations for effective civic engagement. 


Our community organizing model is a time-tested and successful strategy for securing responsiveness from government leaders and creating public participation opportunities for neighborhoods that have traditionally been excluded from the councils of official power.


Our Partners
Needmor Fund
Society of St Vincent  dePaul
Catholic Chartities
Crescent City Peace Keepers
Marguerite Casey Foundation
National Urban League
New Orleans Interfaith Peace Initiative
W. K. Kellog Foundation


IINO in the Community
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