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Kathryn E. Johnson ’67 speaks in Civic Leadership Lecture Series

October 5, 2016


Kathryn E. Johnson ’67 returned to Stephens College on Oct. 3, 2016, as part of the Mary Josie Blanchard Women in Civic Leadership Lecture Series. She also spoke with students in Stephens’ Ten Ideals seminar, which is part of first-year students’ required coursework.

“It was a delight to return to campus and meet students, faculty and administration,” said Johnson, who is the co-founder of the Center for Global Service and an active consultant on issues of leadership development, global health and gender equality. “All were impressive and welcoming. It was great to see Stephens thriving.”

Lisa Lenoir, Stephens assistant professor and first-year faculty adviser, moderated the student seminar. “Johnson, who has traveled to 190 countries, shared stories of women and the challenges they face economically, politically and socially around the world. For instance, she told of a woman in Papua New Guinea who wanted to divorce her husband. But to do so, she and her family had to pay a large bride price of pigs to the husband’s family to obtain her freedom,” Lenoir said.

She talked to the students about how women around the world face challenges that many of us in the U.S. might not even realize, Lenoir said.

“This is not to discount our issues here, but they don’t compare to the disparities and lack of equity others experience,” Lenoir said. “She discussed that hunger in another country consists of people’s bodies wasting, where their bodies start to consume their own tissues because of malnutrition.”

For the Ideals seminar, which focused on the Ideal of Independence, a discussion was held about how women around the world interpret the word “independence.” Johnson added a unique perspective, as when she was a student at Stephens, she took “Ideas in Living Today,” which included the Ten Ideals in its course content.

“I wanted to approach the Independence Ideal lesson as a way to help students explore its meaning across borders, to celebrate diversity and to model cultural competency,” Lenoir said.

The series is funded by a gift from Mary Josie Cain Blanchard ’67, who is the deputy director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) within the Office of the Secretary in the Department of the Interior. The lecture series highlights Stephens alumnae with careers in federal, state or local government, international relations or military service.

Johnson’s background also includes service on numerous boards, including chairing the boards of the Institute for Research on Learning and the American Society of Association Executives. She is a former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Leadership Fellow. She serves on the boards of the Global Women’s Leadership Program, the Health Technology Center, Samueli Institute, Food Commons 2.0, Omni Med, and RENEW. She served for six years of the board of the UN’s World Food Program-USA. In addition, she serves on advisory boards of MedShare Western Council, Living Goods, We Care Solar and Care for Peace. She is also a graduate of Indiana University and completed her master’s degree in Organizational Development at Boston University.  

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