Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton Founder Passed Away

BRADENTON, FL – Johnette Isham, renowned designer and leader in arts philanthropy, passed away leaving behind an incredible legacy of community transformation through art. She was 70.

Isham dedicated over 30 years to arts, design and nonprofits. As an educator and visionary, she leveraged talents to ignite change in corporate, government and civic spheres.

However, Isham will likely be remembered most for spearheading Realize Bradenton – a nonprofit bolstering downtown as a vibrant, flourishing hub. Under Isham’s direction as Executive Director, the organization connected residents through arts and cuisine, helping realize Bradenton’s full potential.

Even after retiring from Realize Bradenton in October 2022, Isham’s influence persisted through her inspirational vision. She presented her blueprint for bettering communities via philanthropy at the 2015 National Philanthropy Scan Workshop.

Isham’s passing sparked an outpouring of tributes from those touched by her leadership, passion and dedication. Her visionary stewardship, arts advocacy and commitment to Bradenton left an indelible and transformational mark.

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Realize Bradenton Shared a Post on Facebook writing:-

It is with heavy hearts that the Realize Bradenton team shares the passing of our founding Executive Director, Johnette Isham, this past week.

Through her leadership, Realize Bradenton implemented the Cultural Master Plan, which was the catalyst behind the revitalization of downtown Bradenton and the development of the Riverwalk. She worked tirelessly to bring people together, promote civic pride, and economic development.

Johnette celebrated the arts with a great deal of passion. She worked with local artists to install public art in downtown spaces and enthusiastically supported local entrepreneurs, makers, creators, musicians, and business owners. Outside of the office, she was known by her friends and coworkers for her quirky costumes, spontaneous dance parties, and love of pigs in a blanket.

Although Johnette retired from her role at Realize Bradenton in October of 2022, she continued to support the community through her new, self-proclaimed role as Bradenton’s Biggest Cheerleader.

We will remember her for her countless big ideas, limitless enthusiasm, and the positive influence she had on our community. She will be missed.

We understand that many of you want to comfort her family at this time; however, they have asked to please respect their privacy and provide space as they grieve.

Jim Copening Shared a Post on Facebook writing:

I just learned about my friend Johnette Isham, who just passed. I found this photo of us at the long table in Bradenton. The only photo I could find with Johnette and myself . I will miss her. She did a lot for me with Arts And Eats restaurant, and James Tyrone Band.

While Isham’s shoes cannot be filled, her legacy will continue driving change. Plans are underway to honor her memory and advance her work. Isham’s courage and pioneer spirit will remain etched in Bradenton’s history and continue motivating future generations.

Bradenton fondly remembers Johnette Isham – an unwavering force for community progress through the power of arts philanthropy and design. Her monumental legacy will echo through the lives she touched.

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