n a n c y   j o   j o h n s o n

Nancy Jo Johnson was born in 1957 in Madison, WI. She has traveled and photographed throughout South Asia. She first met Tibetan refugees in the early 1980s while living in Katmandu, Nepal and has been involved in the Tibetan issue ever since. She is a member of the board of directors of the United States Tibet Committee, and has been working to raise awareness about the Tibetans through her photography for over 15 years. She is based in New York City.

She has produced stories about the culture and religion of the area for National Geographic and LIFE magazine. One of them, Life's "The Reincarnation of Ling," received the prestigious award for Best Picture Story of the Year in 1995 from the Missouri School of Journalism. Her own photographs tell the story of a child escapee in a recent book, Our Journey from Tibet, A True Story (Dutton Press, August 1997, $16.00). In the fall of 1997 she photographed and wrote a 10 page story published in LIFE on her own escape with three children from Tibet. For this she received the Lowell Thomas award for the best self-illustrated article of 1997. In the spring of 1998 she was sponsored by Witness and International Campaign for Tibet to go to India and digitally record harrowing accounts of recent arrivals from Tibet which were then posted daily on ICT's website. The site received more than six commendations and awards from various web-based sources including Mining Co., Yahoo!, Netscape, Webtrips, Bonus.com and the Oscar of the web world entitled the Webbie. A recent exhibit of her work entitled Tibet: Survival of the Spirit at the Cannon Rotunda, U.S. House of Representatives was sponsored by Congressmen John Edward Porter and Tom Lantos, Chairmen of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Lhasa uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama into exile in India in March 1959. Presently, her images are featured in the Shoe Company Charles Davidís advertising campaign. She has also just returned from her fifth trip to Tibet where she spent a month documenting a nomad family in Amdo province.

Nancy Jo Johnson trained as a botanist at the University of Wisconsin, doing her master's study in the Himalayas. She lived in Nepal for four years, working as a researcher and trek leader, and it was there that the Tibetan cause first seized her imagination, beginning with the personal and enlarging to the political. "I made my first Tibetan friend at a refugee community in Nepal," she says. "Ama-La was a survivor of the Chinese occupation who had lost her husband and children when fleeing Tibet. And yet, Ama-La had an inner peacefulness, generosity and warmth that profoundly influenced me. Since then, I have devoted much of my life to learning about the religion, culture and plight of this displaced people.

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