Featured Member: Claire Johnson
-What is your day job?
I am the Neighborhood Initiatives Coordinator for the City of New Albany’s Department of Redevelopment.
I identify community needs and implement short and long term plans to create, grow, and revitalize communities and areas in the City of New Albany that serve to provide a high quality of life and equitable access to opportunity for all people.
My work supports the installation of amenities that encourage and increase bike, pedestrian, and other alternative modes of transportation, ADA accessibility, future mobility initiatives, and desired uses of public spaces. This includes a really fun part of my job which is supporting and nurturing the arts through public art installations, and other art-related projects that create a unique sense of place.
Overall, my work supports active transportation, health and wellness, the arts, environmental sustainability and economic vitality for the City of New Albany (all the fun stuff).
-What is the best part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is the opportunity that I’ve been given to build connections within my community. Much of my work overflows into time that I spend outside of the office. I experience the City firsthand, by going out to dinner Downtown (or getting take out now), shopping at our locally owned stores, biking the bike lanes, running along the Ohio River Greenway, attending neighborhood meetings, and volunteering at the Farmer’s Market. I take these every day experiences and input gathered from residents and business owners to figure out ways to use this feedback to help continue to shape our City into a place that makes everyone feel welcomed, heard and appreciated.
My personal goal is for local government to feel approachable to everyone in the community. I remain available and accessible to residents and colleagues in other departments. I directly address needs and function as a liaison connecting our residents and business owners to the Department within the City that can best serve them.
New Albany is truly Our NA.
-How are you managing social distancing?
I am managing physical distancing, social connection. I’m acutely aware of the emotional toll that COVID is causing. I find myself being more conscious of my willingness to be more empathetic.
-How are you staying in touch with family and friends during this time? Any advice?
It is easy to meet physical distancing requirements and make social connections by spending quality time with neighbors, friends and family outdoors. I have enjoyed taking walks in the park, going on hikes, and riding bikes together.
A group of friends and I recently got take out from Dragon King’s Daughter in New Albany, met at the River Front Amphitheater, and enjoyed a physically distanced picnic while watching the sunset. I highly recommend making arrangements such as this.
-Why did you join YPAL?
My good friends Betsy Appleton and Michelle Clay serve on the YPAL Board and both had very solid arguments for me to join.
Although Southern Indiana is separated geographically from Louisville by the Ohio River, YPAL can help to bridge that divide and open opportunities to build strong business and personal relationships with members on both sides of the River.
My hope is that through my involvement in this organization, we can work together to ensure that YPAL is inclusive and representative of young professionals in the Southern Indiana region.
During this serious and stressful time, I think it helps to laugh. I recommend the wildly hilarious ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ by David Sedaris. I literally laugh out loud at his wacky observations about his life.
-Favorite restaurant in Louisville? (or fav carry out right now?)
Vietnam Kitchen in Iroquois Manor. The regulars have their menu item letter and number memorized. For me, it’s VK8 and VA4 with mock duck every time.
-What is the best career advice you have received?
My good friend and former coworker at the City of New Albany, Courtney Lewis (now at Louisville Metro Housing) set an example by giving me a seat at the table and encouraging me to share my perspective. That bolstered my confidence, connected me to various networks, and opened doors for me.
This demonstrated the importance of sharing my platform to support others. I endeavor to repeat this strategy as often as possible.
-Anything else cool you want to share?
Come check out this gorgeous mural, ‘Ohio River’ painted by the artist Key Detail that I am pictured with here. It is located on the side of the Schmitt Furniture Building in Downtown New Albany. The large scale mural features local flora and fauna and a folkloric woman depicting the River. I worked diligently on this Public Art project and we are very proud of the result. This was a partnership with the Department of Redevelopment and the Urban Enterprise Association.
Do you know a great young professional who we should feature next month? Tell us about them (or yourself) here!
A big thank you to our Featured Member Blog Post Sponsor, Webster University!
Webster University, a global institution, provides adult learners with a quality graduate education in a diverse and personalized learning environment. Take your career to the next level with a graduate degree designed for the working professional. Your future is now! Contact Webster University, Louisville at (502) 896-1835 or visit their website www.webster.edu