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Reed Featured as One of CoVaBiz Magazine's Leading Ladies

By: Betsy DiJulio, CoVaBiz Magazine


Alison Reed has known she wanted to be an English professor since the fifth grade when she would watch her grandfather, Ian Watt, author of The Rise of the Novel and professor emeritus at Stanford University, reading and making notes on a legal pad. It was, perhaps, a romanticized notion of life in the ivory tower.

But Reed has found her life's work with one foot in that so-called ivory tower and the other in the Norfolk City Jail through a program, Humanities Behind Bars that she co-founded with fellow community organizer Meghan McDowell, Ph.D. This multi-layered and continually evolving program is, essentially, a "grassroots collective of teachers, students, activists and artists committed to imagining a just world."