Jo Blair

Managing Director, Brown Bread

Jo Blair is the founding director of Brown Bread, a partnerships and engagement
company that builds communities around visionary ideas that make a difference. Her
company helps not‐for‐profits develop ideas and products to attract sustainable funding and helps companies engage staff and customers in socially driven initiatives for their brands.

Brown Bread was one of New Zealand’s first accredited BCorps, priding itself on working on just the good stuff – ideas that are wholesome, enduring and good for everyone. Forging her ‘impact’ path with inaugural client, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Jo and her Brown Bread team pioneered a new way of collective giving to the arts post‐quake, competing with multiple city priorities, to ensure art leads the rebuild of Christchurch Ōtautahi.

Jo has worked with other arts organisations such as Auckland Art Gallery, for whom Brown Bread developed a digital community campaign to lobby the Auckland Council to increase funding by $20 million. Other art partners include Creative New Zealand, Christchurch’s The Court Theatre, and Auckland’s design, architecture and craft gallery, Objectspace.

Brown Bread is not exclusively focused on the arts. Other clients have been in the health space: Māia Health Foundation, Cancer Society, and the award‐winning post disaster health campaign, All Right? They also work with educators like Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, wellbeing and youth development with the Graeme Dingle Foundation, community organisations such as Ministry of Awesome and Christchurch Central City Business Association, as well as a growing number of socially motivated corporates who want to build authentic communities and purpose around their brands such as Kathmandu, Lion Breweries, and EY.

Brown Bread is a business that exists for good – and as well as delivering pro‐bono services as part of its business model, the company also founded the community engagement platform Broadly Speaking in Christchurch. This popular speaking series brings a diverse community of women together – with no agenda but to help each other build confidence, their voices, and gender equality. Broadly Speaking has now been launched in Auckland, and in 2019 will go nationwide. The same goes for getting the arts on the agenda. Brown Bread delivered arts forums in Christchurch for four years, at a time when all arts organisations were displaced from the central city and working in make‐shift locations.

Jo was a board member of the New Zealand Event Association for five years, a Governor of Rangi Ruru Girls School and is an arts patron herself, supporting patron groups like NZ at Venice, Auckland Art Gallery, and Christchurch Art Gallery – as well as raising funds and delivering two significant permanent public art works in Ōtautahi over the past four years. Jo is a co‐director of Brown Bread with her husband, Alistair. In 2018 they welcomed their son Jim to the world – Alistair has taken on the role as Jim’s lead care giver while Jo continues to work full time on making a difference, through business for good.