Born and raised in Vermont, Jody Williams graduated from the University of Vermont in 1972. She received her Master’s in Teaching Spanish and English as a Second Language from the School for International Training from the Experiment in International Living (now World Learning) in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1976. In 1984, she received her Master’s in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Washington, DC. Williams is a grassroots activist, writer, public speaker and professor, whose activism finds its roots in the Vietnam War.

She served as the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) until February 1998. Beginning in early 1992 with two non-governmental organizations and a staff of one – Jody Williams, she oversaw its growth to a global network of civil society organizations in around 90 countries working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines. In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it dramatically achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.

Three weeks later, Williams and the ICBL were awarded the Noble Peace Prize. At that time, she became the tenth woman – and third American woman –in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize, with many more awards and recognitions following. Since February 1998, she has served as a Campaign Ambassador for the ICBL, speaking on its behalf all over the world. From 1999-2004, she served as senior editor for the 1,000-page annual Landmine Monitor Report, a groundbreaking initiative by civil society that monitors the implementation and compliance of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Along with sister Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Jody Williams took the lead in establishing the “Nobel Women’s Initiative,” together with sister Laureates Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala) and Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Northern Ireland). Launched in January 2006, its mission is to use the prestige and access afforded by the Nobel Prize to spotlight and promote efforts of women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations working to advance peace, justice and equality for women. By helping to advance the cause of women, the Nobel Women’s Initiative advances all of humanity. Williams serves as its chair.

She is a founder and co-chair of the “International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict,” spearheaded by the Nobel Women’s Initiative and launched in May 2012. Williams is also a cofounder of the “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots”, launched in April 2013. That effort seeks a preemptive ban on autonomous weapons systems that can target and kill human beings on their own, with no human intervention.

Professor Williams continues to be recognized for her contributions to human rights and global security. She is the recipient of eighteen honorary degrees, among other recognitions. In 2004, she was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world in the publication of its first such annual list.