Kelly Brown Douglas, 1979
B.A., Denison University
Ph.D., Union College
Theologian and Educator
Citation awarded June, 2000
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Denison, Kelly Brown Douglas continued her studies at Union Theological Seminary, where she earned the Master of Divinity (1982), the Master of Philosophy (1985) and the Ph.D. in Theology (1988). She was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1983, the first black woman to be ordained a priest in that church in the Southern Ohio Diocese, and one of the only five nationwide at the time. Kelly has taught in the Howard University Divinity School since 1987, where she is now Associate Professor of Systematic Theology. During the next academic year, she will serve as Dupont Visiting Professor at Goucher College.
A leading expert on theology from the perspective of the African-American woman (“womanist” theology), Kelly has lectured across the country and abroad. She is the author of The Black Christ (1994), Sexuality and the Black Church (1999), and many other writings. In 1995 Kelly was awarded Denison’s Grace Lyon Alumnae Award, presented to distinguished female graduates by the Department of Women’s Studies and the Office of Women’s Programs. She was also the recipient of a number of awards and scholarships during her student years. Kelly is an active participant in the Ecumenical Associate of Third World Theologians, the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and the American Academy of Religion.
As a student at Denison, Kelly served on the Presidential Search Committee that resulted in the selection of Robert Good as president in 1976. From 1981 to 1984, she served as an Alumni Council Member-at-Large, and she has visited the campus a number of times as a speaker, including her return as the Goodspeed Lecturer in 1995. Most recently, she was the inaugural speaker for Denison’s new Provost’s Series, which features distinguished alumni scholars.
Kelly makes her home in German town, Maryland, with her husband Lamont and her son Desmond. Her sister, Karen D. Brown-Fallings, is a member of the Denison Class of 1976.