In her words: Bliss Browne ’71

Bliss Williams Browne ’71 B.A. was among the first women undergraduate students at Yale, where she became president of Yale’s Episcopal church as well as a Battell Chapel deacon. She called Yale University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, who served at Yale from 1958-1975, the “single biggest influence on me at Yale.” It was Coffin who suggested that Browne enter the ministry, despite being a woman. “So I did,” she said. In 1979, Browne was ordained as a minister in the Episcopal church and, in 1979, became the first woman priest to preach at London’s Westminster Abbey. She would later work in the corporate sector as division head of the First National Bank of Chicago, where she became deeply engaged in civic leadership and founded Imagine Chicago, an organization designed to foster community engagement and literacy among young people. “I operate from the whole,” Browne said. “I see things in big picture terms and I’m in constant conversation with the fullness of life.”

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