A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, Joan Chittister is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer on topics of justice, peace, human rights, women's issues and contemporary spirituality in the church and in society. She presently serves as the co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, especially in the Middle East. Her most recent books include Following the Path: the search for a life of passion, purpose and joy (Random House) and Monastery of the Heart (BlueBridge); she has won more than 13 Catholic Press Association awards for her books. She is founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource for contemporary spirituality. Her From Where I Stand column, is a long-standing online feature of National Catholic Reporter.