Dr. Paula Johnson

President, Wellesley College

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Dr. Paula Johnson's Story

Paula Johnson became president of Wellesley College in July of 2016.

Paula A. Johnson, MD, MPH, is a respected and passionate leader, deeply committed to women and sustainably improving their lives. She is recognized internationally as an innovator, bringing her broad range of experience as a researcher, educator, and expert in health care, public health, and health policy to bear in the effort to transform the health of women. On July 1, 2016, she became the 14th president of Wellesley College.

Before coming to Wellesley, President Johnson founded and served as the inaugural executive director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, as well as Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—a Harvard teaching hospital and one of the leading academic medical centers in the world. Her vision for achieving sustainable improvement in women’s health is reflected in the Connors Center’s unique approach to all aspects of health throughout the lifespan. This model encompasses discovering how disease is expressed differently in women and men, integrating leading-edge research about women’s health into the delivery of care, influencing health policy, addressing the health of women globally, and developing the next generation of leaders in the field of women’s health through innovative interdisciplinary education and working successfully across complex systems.

A cardiologist, President Johnson was the Grace A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health, an endowed professorship named in honor of her mother, at Harvard Medical School. She was also Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research has impacted women across the United States through its influence on the implementation of health care reform. She also led the development of a case-based curriculum, which is influencing the development of emerging leaders seeking to improve the health of women globally.

She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the nation’s leading advisory organization providing expertise on issues relating to biomedical science, medicine, and health. President Johnson is also featured as a national leader in medicine by the National Library of Medicine and is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her contributions in women’s health and public health. Her 2013 TED talk, “His and Her Healthcare,” which has had more than 1 million viewers, was recently named by TED as one of the “Top 10 TED Talks by Women to be Viewed by Everyone” and has helped to raise awareness of the importance of sex differences to understanding women’s health.

Her vision, research, and ability to lead at the intersection of healthcare and public health has brought President Johnson key leadership roles in the local and national arenas, including the Chair of the Board of the Boston Public Health Commission, member of the National Institutes of Health, NIH, Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health, and membership on numerous national and international boards and committees. She is a respected board leader, serving on numerous non-profit boards—most recently including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the newly formed Mary Christie Foundation, whose mission is to impact policy focused on the health and wellness of students globally.

President Johnson attended Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, received her MD and MPH degrees from Harvard, and trained in internal medicine and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she and her husband have a son and a daughter and a Havanese puppy.