“Stay true to your values. There are certain issues you feel passionate about; follow them and they can end up taking you on a nice, interesting journey.” Dr. Ebony Reddock (BA 2002, Women’s Studies/Honors and Psychology) has followed her own advice.
“[During undergrad] I did a lot of volunteer work through Project Serve, Project Community, Safehouse, and HARC [HIV/AIDS Resource Center]. Exploring your interests is great to do. The reason I did so much volunteering was to see what I liked,” Reddock shared. She says that she sees the evolution of her work -- from volunteering to Honors Thesis to grad school and even to her current position, “but it might not be so clear to anyone else!” Reddock’s Honors Thesis was on content analysis of sexual images in hip-hop videos, which she related to adolescent girls’ sexual development. After graduation, she spent a couple of years working in nonprofits, dedicating her energies to sexual and reproductive health work. Reddock worked at Alternatives for Girls in Detroit and The Health Connexion for three years; after two years, she continued her studies at the University of Michigan in the School of Public Health, earning a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. in Health Behavior & Health Education.
“I started thinking about pursuing the Ph.D. during my undergrad. Doing the Honors Thesis solidified my interest in doing bigger research projects The Honors Thesis is also helpful in developing and facilitating relationships with faculty. These relationships have carried me far. In fact, one of my undergraduate faculty advisors served on my dissertation committee,” reflected Reddock. While finishing her dissertation -- “Raising a Dad: Parenting Support and Psychological Stress Among African American Paternal Grandmothers Whose Sons Are Teenage Fathers” -- Reddock began her current position as a Coordinator of the Michigan Partners Project at the UM Center for the Education of Women (CEW). “I coordinate a policy advocacy project that focuses on reducing women’s poverty in Michigan. My goal is to convene researchers, practitioners, activists, and community members who are touched in some way by women’s poverty and create and promote policies and programs,” explained Reddock. “We have a focus on making childcare affordable and accessible, and increasing the completion rate [for women in] post-secondary education programs.”
As the coordinator for the Michigan Partners Project, Reddock is quite busy! “I manage meetings, run webinars, I’m the voice for CEW with various organizations, I coordinate research projects, facilitate the advisory board. And, in general, oversee the overall development of the project, which is a challenge since it’s ‘ground up’. This is the first time [CEW] has had a formal project in this area.” Those challenges are not without reward, however.
The Rackham Graduate School at UM hosts The Michigan Meetings, “a series of annual interdisciplinary meetings of national and international scope on topics of broad interest and contemporary importance to both the public and the academic community,” (https://www.rackham.umich.edu/academics/rii/michigan_meetings). There is financial support of up to $50,000 through Rackham for the conferences, but there are only two per year. UM-CEW won one of the spots for 2014 and, in May, they successfully hosted a conference titled “Women and Economics Security: Changing Policy and Practice.” Reddock says that working on this conference has been a highlight of her work at CEW. “We were able to bring in people from all across the country. The keynote speaker was Sheryl WuDunn, one of the authors of Half the Sky. Others included Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Academic Director of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies; Rebekah Warren, Michigan Senator; and Danielle Atkinson, founding director of Mothering Justice. It was a successful event, with more than 200 attendees!”
In addition to her work with the CEW, which she plans to continue, Reddock is also forming her own business. “I am working on developing an LLC that will serve the information needs of women. My focus is on issues of self-care, work/life balance, issues of self-worth, and coparenting. I want to provide products for moms to become more empowered in caring for themselves, their families, and their relationships.” Reddock, a mother herself, sees a place where the resources are lacking. “So much of the writing and books out there are ‘kid-centric.’ I feel there’s room to expand resources for mothers in other areas. There are so many things that go along with being a mom!”