Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, Elizabeth Johnson grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of seven children in a sprawling Catholic family that included beloved cats and dogs. As a young adult she joined the religious order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph whose motherhouse is in Brentwood, Long Island, NY. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, she was a young sister teaching in elementary school as a New York State certified teacher of reading from grades K-6, a certification she still maintains. The Council energized her interest in matters theological.
After receiving a PhD in theology from Catholic University of America (1981), she taught at that university for ten years before moving to Fordham University where she teaches in both graduate and undergraduate programs. Professor, mentor, writer, editor, and public lecturer at home and abroad, she is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the oldest and largest society of theologians in the world, and a former president of the American Theological Society, an ecumenical association. She loves to teach and was awarded Fordham University’s Teaching Award in 1998 and Professor of the Year Award in 2011 (most fond of these).
Dr. Johnson has received fifteen honorary doctorates, the John Courtney Murray Award for distinguished achievement in theology, and numerous other accolades. Her book She Who Is garnered several honors, most notably the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Her work has been translated into thirteen languages, including German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Bosnian, Korean, Indonesian, and Thai. She serves on the editorial boards of the journals Theological Studies, Horizons: Journal of the College Theology Society, and Theoforum. She appears with photo and brief biography in the Library of Congress 2009 Engagement Calendar, entitled Women Who Dare, for the week of June 22-28, 2009.
Deeply involved in the life of the church, her public service has included being a theologian on the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (1984-91); a consultant to the US Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Women in Church and Society; a theologian on the Vatican-sponsored dialogue between science and religion, and on the Vatican-sponsored ecumenical conference on Christ and world religions; and a core committee member of the Common Ground Initiative, started by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (Chicago) to reconcile polarized groups in the Catholic Church.