Janice Dean Willis, or Jan Willis (born 1948) is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, where she has taught since 1977; and the author of books on Tibetan Buddhism. She has been called influential by Time Magazine , Newsweek, , and Ebony Magazine 
Willis grew up in Docena, Alabama (near Birmingham), as the daughter of a Baptist deacon and steelworker. While traveling through Asia during the early 1970's, she became the student of Tibetan lama Thubten Yeshe, who encouraged her academic pursuits. She received BA and MA degrees in philosophy from Cornell University (thesis: History, Faith, and Kerygma; A Critique of Bultmann's Existentialist Theology.), and a Ph.D. in Indic and Buddhist Studies from Columbia University (dissertation: A Study of the Chapter on Reality Based Upon the Tattvartha-patalam of Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi.).
She is the author of the following books:
- Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey. New York: Riverhead Books, 2001.
- The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972.
- On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi. Columbia UP, 1979.
- Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition. Wisdom Publications, 1995.
- (editor)Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1989.
- Paine, Jeffrey. Re-Enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West. Norton, 2004. Willis's experience with Lama Yeshe is discussed on pp. 64-70.