Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes HendersonPresident Emerita

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson became president emerita of Auburn Seminary in October 2021 after 12 years as Auburn’s president.

Her leadership called forth Auburn’s commitment to stewarding a multifaith, multiracial movement for justice and established Auburn as a dynamic, innovative, national organization committed to “healing and repairing the world.” Auburn began networking, educating, and supporting spirit-rooted leaders working on the front lines of justice, focusing most of the organization’s efforts and resources on emerging expressions of faith-rooted justice leadership and social movements in public life. With Rev. Henderson’s leadership, Auburn invested in structural and cultural work that is necessary to ensure that Auburn successfully embodies the robust intersectional diversity that fuels justice-centered work.

Author of “God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith are Changing the World” (Continuum, 2006), Henderson is an internationally known speaker and has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, MSNBC, NPR, and more. Her TEDx talk, “Letting God Out of the Box,” was released in February 2017. Henderson is currently writing her second book, “Fighting for the Heart of America: How the Prophets of our Time are Bringing Our Nation’s Future to Birth” (w.t.).

Henderson has spearheaded innovative educational programs, ranging from convening CEOs on ethics in business practice to infusing mainstream media with compelling faith voices on issues such as a moral economy, sex trafficking, immigration, gun violence, LGBT equality, Islamophobia, and antisemitism. She co-founded Face to Face | Faith to Faith—a multifaith program educating a new generation of young leaders from the US and conflict and post conflict regions around the world as peacemakers for our global society.

Henderson was named co-recipient of the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize for her lifelong passion to create spaces for authentic interfaith engagement. She joined esteemed past winners including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Henderson was nominated and selected as an Arthur Vining Davis Foundation’s Fellow for the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival for her outstanding and respected leadership in the multifaith leadership development field. She serves on the Advisory Board of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center and the Multifaith Leadership Advisory Board for New York University; and is a Board member of the Summit Preparatory School in Kalispell, MT.

She earned her Masters of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary and her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

Henderson was raised in Louisville, Kentucky during the civil rights movement. As a child, she accompanied her parents on civil rights marches and prayed and sang with people of many faith traditions who came together out of moral conviction—all united for justice. This early experience shaped Henderson’s enduring commitment to equip and support leaders in building a more peaceful and just world.