John Davis is the founder and former Executive Director of Lanesboro Arts, retiring in 2018 after receiving a Bush Fellowship to further study and advance the field of rural arts and rural sustainability. His work with the Lanesboro Arts Campus initiative resulted in Lanesboro’s selection as one of the top 12 Small Town Artplaces in America for 2013 as well as winning a 2014 Bush Prize for Community Innovation Award.
Mr. Davis was the recipient of the 2011 Visionary Leadership Award from the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits for his community-building work in the arts in Lanesboro, MN (pop754). His innovative work in New York Mills, Minnesota (pop1,199) has been recognized as a national model for rural economic development in the arts, and New York Mills was twice recognized as one of the top 100 small arts town in America. Davis is also the creator of the Great American Think-Off philosophy competition and the Kids Philosophy Slam program.
Davis has over 30 years of experience with small town and rural creative social change work. He is a national speaker on rural arts issues, risk and innovation. His work has been featured on National Public Radio and broadcast on C-Span; it has also been featured in Corporate Report Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times, and the NBC Today Show.