The Most Reverend Doctor Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, was honored as the 39th recipient of Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Elizabeth Blackwell Award in a ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. The election of Jefferts Schori to lead the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2006 made her the first woman to head one of the Anglican Communion's national churches.
Jefferts Schori serves as chief pastor and primate to the Episcopal Church's members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. In her work as presiding bishop, Jefferts Schori has been vocal about the Episcopal Church's mission priorities, including the United Nation Millennium Development Goals and issues of domestic poverty and sustainability. In addition, she has championed the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the church and in the secular world.
Prior to pursuing a career in the priesthood to which she was ordained in 1994, Jefferts Schori was an oceanographer with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle. Her specialty was the northern Pacific Ocean species of squids and octopuses. She holds a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University, a M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees.
Jefferts Schori joins with other principal bishops to form the 38-member Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Over the course of her nine-year term, Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programs authorized by General Convention. In describing her ministry, The Rt. Rev. Desmond Tutu writes: "In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin."
Jefferts Schori is an active, instrument-rated pilot - a skill she applied when traveling between the congregations of the Diocese of Nevada, where she was elected bishop in 2000 and ordained to the episcopate February 24, 2001. At the time of her election as bishop of Nevada, she was a priest, university lecturer, and hospice chaplain in Oregon.