Deirdre Jonese Austin was born and raised in Charlotte, NC to Deridre Austin and the late John David Austin Jr. She graduated from Independence High School in Charlotte, NC in 2015 and went on to attend the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service. In May of 2019, she graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. Jonese graduated with honors in her major of Culture and Politics with a focus in religion and social justice, a minor in African-American Studies, and a certificate in Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs.
At Georgetown, she served as the student chaplain for the gospel choir, the senior director of marketing for the BRAVE black women’s summit, the vice president of Resonant Essence Live a cappella ensemble, the secretary (former president) of GU Sisters for Christ, and the co-chair of the Protestant Ministry Student Vestry. She was also on the Provost Committee for Diversity, and she completed a project on affordable housing, religion, and interfaith work as a Doyle Fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
Jonese is a licensed Baptist minister, speaker, writer, and justice seeker, and has spoken on panels and led sessions on topics such as liberation theology, racial reconciliation, and combatting hatred and xenophobia. She has also written articles and blog posts, notably in Sojourners online, on topics related to race and social justice. Furthermore, she completed an honors thesis on the black church and its approach to social justice in the twenty-first century through ethnographic research. In addition to graduating from Georgetown, she was licensed for ministry at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Darryl Roberts in May of 2019.
In the fall, Jonese began pursuing her Master of Divinity with certificates in Black Church Studies and Baptist Studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Jonese’s favorite scripture is Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you. To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God, and she lives by the philosophy, “If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain.” Her professional goal is to enter a career at the intersections of ministry, nonprofit work, academia, and politics that will allow her to bring healing through theology, direct action, and policy.