For release: February 4, 2009
For press information, contact Katie Russo, 901-678-4994
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
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
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.