Friends of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Leadership

Friends of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is led by a Board made up of members from the Cincinnati and surrounding communities and from the University of Cincinnati. Board members volunteer their time and energy to Friends and the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies because of their commitment and dedication to gender and racial equality, inclusive education, and activism.


Co-presidents: Janet Reed and Michelle Watts

Janet Reed,  Professor Emerita from the Department of English and Comparative Literature, taught for 33 years at various institutions with the last 24 at UC, where she served 15 years as department head in the former  University College and the former College of  Applied Science.  She has a BA, with highest honors, and an MA, both in English, from Purdue University and completed her English and linguistics doctoral course work and exams at the University of Toledo.  She is a member of the Dayton Chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America and the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, currently serving  on the Executive Board of the latter group.  She  taught and designed courses on women's literature and drama throughout her career.

Michelle Watts is an Independent Scholar and community volunteer with over fifteen years’ experience in the Academy and the nonprofit sector. She earned an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and her MA and PhD from Rice University. Her current research interests include 19th c. African American literature, African American children’s literature. Michelle has taught at Rice University and Miami University-Oxford. She currently works for a boutique consulting firm that specializes in evaluation and program assessment and strategic planning. Michelle also has an active civic life and is a proud CASA Volunteer.



Barbara Myers retired from International Paper Company after 30 years of service as a Finance Business Manager for various Business IT groups and for Global Telecommunications.  She has a BA in English from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, an MA in English & Comparative Literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and an MBA in Marketing & Finance from Columbia University.   Her real passion is reserved for activities outside of work, where she has spent many years supporting women and women’s issues through various organizations, most with a common theme – to improve the status, economic power, and treatment of women. Supporting women also extends to her interest in art.  Barbara is an avid art collector of work by women and about women. 

Board Members

Barbara Allen is a longtime Friend and supporter of Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Barbara received her BA from the University of Cincinnati in 1950, and returned to the University to receive an MS in Health Planning and Administration in 1978. In addition to her passion for Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barbara is a longtime supporter and lover of the arts in Cincinnati. Barbara remains actively involved in the Cincinnati community through her work with Friends and many other worthwhile organizations.  

Anne Arenstein has worked as a museum educator for over 20 years. She was Public Programs Coordinator for Cincinnati Museum Center and Assistant Curator for Family and Studio Programs at the Taft Museum. She is currently Volunteer Coordinator for Legacies, the resale shop that benefits Cancer Support Community. Anne also is a freelance arts writer for City Beat and she has written for Cincinnati Magazine, Cincinnati Opera and Santa Fe Opera. She sings with MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Chorus and volunteers for WVXU. She and her husband Richard Sarason have two sons,  Yoni and Michael.

Patrice Barnes serves as Program Coordinator in the Office of Ethnic Programs and Services here at the University of Cincinnati. As Program Coordinator she is responsible for all social media, marketing and cultural programing with special focus on Asian iniatiaves. In June of 2011, Patrice earned her Bachelors of Arts in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati which further fueled her passion to advocate for the improvement of self-esteem among women and girls. Patrice enjoys being a resource to students through shared experiences and commonalities. In her spare time, Patrice enjoys traveling, hanging with friends, reading and watching musicals.

Dabby Blatt is a longtime Friend and president of Friends. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and have Masters Degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Smith College School of Social Work. After 20 years' as a social worker in community mental health and  as the Counselor and Learning Assistance Coordinator at the Art Academy of Cincinnati,  She is currently retired and doing volunteer work for Mental  Health America of Northern Kentucky Southwest Ohio and the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. She is the Vice President of the Board of Cincinnati Opera and a member of the Foundation Board of Planned Parenthood. She was a member of the 19th class of Leadership Cincinnati and an Enquirer Woman of the Year in 1993.

Paula Fletcher M.D received her BA from the University of Kentucky in 1967, an MD from the University of Kentucky in 1971, and completed her Medical Internship, Residency and Fellowship at the University of Arizona and the University of Kentucky from 1971-76. She practiced medicine in Richmond, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Presently she is retired from medicine and is an active artist with a studio in the Northside Community of Cincinnati. She is also a singer with MUSE - Cincinnati's Women's Choir.

Amy Howton graduated from the Women's Studies MA program in 2000. She is a licensed mental health counselor and earned a doctorate in Counselor Education in 2011. She currently serves as the Associate Director of the University of Cincinnati's Women's Center, where she was worked since 2003. She spent the past ten years coordinating the university's support and advocacy services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and currently leads feminist leadership and activism development programming.  She has three kids and a million animals and loves writing, running, and photography.


Julia Montier-Ball is in the midst of her third career as the Assistant Director of the Career Development Center at the University of Cincinnati since 2002. Julia enjoys Career Coaching, teaching Career Development and coordinating a host of events that help students launch their job search. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design from the University of Cincinnati, DAAP in 1979 and is currently pursuing an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction, specializing in Instructional Design Technology.

Pat O'Reilly is a Professor Emerita at the University of Cincinnati. She received her B.S. in Child Development, a Master of Education in Counseling and Guidance, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. After serving as Director of Recreational Therapy at Children's Hospital Medical Center for fourteen years, Dr. O'Reilly began as Instructor and Coordinator of the Child Care Technology program at the University of Cincinnati and was promoted to Assistant Professor of Child Development and Director of Arlitt Child Development Center; then Associate Professor, and Coordinator of Educational Foundations in the Department of Educational Leadership, joining the Women's Studies Faculty in 1985. Dr. O'Reilly is renowned for her community service and positive attitude.

Barbara Ramusack is the Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emerita of History at the University of Cincinnati where she taught South Asian and Chinese history. In 1973 she participated in the successful effort to establish a Women's Studies Center at UC.  She and Betsy Sato organized and co-taught a course on women in Asia beginning in 1974 and she was interim director of Women's Studies in 1978-79. After serving two terms as director of graduate Studies, Barbara became the first woman to head the Department of History at UC from 1999 to 2003. Her current research analyzes efforts to improve maternal and infant health in late colonial south India.

Janet Reed is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Cincinnati. She retired in 2011 from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences after teaching at UC for 24 years, 15 of them as Department Head in University College and in the College of Applied Science. Her teaching interests were drama, developmental and first year writing, and literature by women. As a member of the Dayton Chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America and the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, she performs with the Pemberley Players and the Not-Ready-for-the-Twentieth-Century Players.

Michelle Watts has been studying, researching and writing about the African experience in America for over fifteen years. She began her studies at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts where she completed a double major in English and Political Science. After graduation, she began a study liberation, labor, and education in the cultural work of African American women. She received her doctoral degree in American Literature from Rice University in Houston, Texas. She was also an Erskine Peters Fellow in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Watts has over ten years of university teaching experience. She has worked at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and while there she was recognized as an Honored Professor for her ‘remarkable commitment to students and their educational development.’  Dr. Watts’ interest in inclusion and community based research inspired a career change. She joined the staff of BRIDGES for a Just Community in 2012 and served as Vice President of Community Engagement. In that position, Dr. Watts created and delivered culturally responsive curriculum on inclusion, racial justice, and community engagement. Since leaving BRIDGES, Dr. Watts has pursued her research and community engagement interests and is currently working in public engagement and education at a local historic house museum, The Betts House. She also serves on the boards of two Cincinnati area non-profits, WordPlay and The Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.

Department Head

Deborah Meem is head of the Department of Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Trained as a Victorianist, she divides her research energies between 19th C. women's literature and LGBT Studies. Deb became an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Women's Studies as soon as she arrived at UC in 1984. She rejoices in the evolution of WGSS into a thriving, growing department, and is proud to call herself a Friend

Graduate Assistant

  • Emily Merz

If you are interested in learning more about serving on the Friends of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Board, please contact the Friends office at friendsws[at]

Additional Information