Martha Hanzel Johnson ‘87 was born in St. Paul and was the youngest of four children who all attended Cretin or Derham Hall. She graduated in 1987 as a member of the final Derham Hall graduating class. She credits Honors History and Honors Shakespeare with providing her with a foundational love of learning and critical thinking skills that she carried throughout her education.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at St. Mary’s College and studied abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland as an undergraduate. That was a formative experience, setting her on her career path. She earned a Master of Arts in Literature at the University of St. Thomas and a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
After college, she worked at London’s Regent’s College and at Dublin’s Trinity College summer programs. She then got a job coordinating US study abroad students at a British university, which laid the foundation for her commitment to international education.
After returning to the US, she worked for a consortium of Australian universities in Denver before returning to Minnesota in 2001. She has held a variety of global education roles at the University of Minnesota since 2001, and is currently the Assistant Dean of the Learning Abroad Center, overseeing a staff of 52 in the US and another 25 abroad.
“I was immediately struck by Martha’s dedication to student success. She works tirelessly to connect students with meaningful learning abroad opportunities. She never misses the chance to talk to students about their educational journeys, no matter where she might meet them,” said Nanette Hanks, Assistant Dean for Curriculum at the University of Minnesota. College of Liberal Arts.
She has served on the boards of multiple nonprofits and associations in international education. She is currently the Chair of the Board for the Fund for Education Abroad, a non-profit that funds first-generation students' study abroad based on financial need. She is also a founding board member of the Global Leadership League, a professional organization dedicated to supporting women in international education globally.
Cynthia Banks, President of the Global Leadership League, is proud to work alongside Martha. “Martha is one of the most influential leaders in global education. She blazes trails with innovative overseas programs, setting the bar high for others to follow. Her calm confidence and seasoned wisdom make her a gifted and desired mentor,” she said.
Martha was selected as the Carondelet awardee for her commitment to CDH, and to global education.