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Nobel Laureate Jody Williams Will Speak at U of M Feb. 20 University News
For release: February 4, 2009

For press information, contact Katie Russo, 901-678-4994

Jody Williams
Jody Williams
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams will speak at the University of Memphis on Friday, February 20, at 4 p.m. in the Rose Theatre. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Williams works with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). She was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in creating an international treaty for the clearing of antipersonnel landmine fields and banning landmines from being used in the future.

Williams was born in Vermont in 1950 and, from an early age, abhorred injustice. After attending the University of Vermont in Burlington, she returned to Brattleboro, Vt., where she earned a master’s degree in teaching Spanish and English-as-a-Second-Language. After teaching ESL in Mexico for two years, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked two jobs and attended the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.  She earned a master’s degree in international relations in 1984. 

Concerned by what she read in a leaflet she had received on the street one day, Williams attended a meeting to learn more about U.S. involvement in the civil war in El Salvador. She worked for two years leading delegations to Central America as coordinator of the Nicaragua-Honduras Education Project. She also served as the deputy director of Medical Aid for El Salvador, an organization developing humanitarian relief projects.

In 1991 Williams was invited to coordinate a new initiative to ban landmines worldwide. After years of building awareness about U.S. policy toward Central America, she leapt at the opportunity to mobilize non-governmental organizations around the world to press their governments in a common cause, the total elimination of antipersonnel landmines.

In 1992, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was formally launched. In little more than five years, Williams and the ICBL had achieved their goal of raising public awareness about landmines and achieving a landmine ban. In recognition for their efforts, the Norwegian Nobel Committee named Williams and the ICBL co-recipients of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Though she is no longer coordinator of the ICBL, Williams serves as its international ambassador. She also spearheads the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

Her talk is sponsored by the Student Activities Council and Peace Jam.

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