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Associate Professor Loretta Ross Named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow

News of Note

Reproductive and human rights activist recognized with prestigious “genius grant.”

Published October 12, 2022

The MacArthur Foundation announced today that Loretta Ross, Associate Professor for the Study of Women and Gender, is a member of the 2022 class of MacArthur Fellows.

Ross is known for her role in establishing the concept of reproductive justice as one which includes the right to parent children in a safe and healthy environment, thereby expanding the issue beyond the pro-life/pro-choice debate. A longtime, leading activist and supporter of equal rights, she joined the women’s movement in 1978 by working at the first rape crisis center in the country. In 1997, she co-founded SisterSong, an organization that works to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.

At Smith, Ross teaches about reproductive justice, white supremacy, human rights, violence against women, and call-out culture. She is the co-author of three books, and author of the forthcoming Calling In the Call Out Culture. Last year, she testified at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Reform for Examining the Urgent Need to Protect and Expand Abortion Rights and Access in the U.S.

The MacArthur Fellowship is awarded to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits. Fellows are nominated anonymously by leaders in their respective fields and considered by an anonymous selection committee. They receive $800,000 stipends that are bestowed with no conditions, to be used as they see fit.

Of the award, Ross said, “Human rights play a central role in the geopolitical landscape and the future of democracies. We need to re-envision the ways in which human rights are understood and practiced to ensure we are able to address today’s most pressing problems. I am delighted to receive this award to further the work of social justice.”

President Kathleen McCartney commented on Ross’ fellowship saying, “The Smith community is immensely proud of Loretta and her work, which encourages us to think in new ways about how we define and confront injustice. In the classroom and in her actions, she has shifted the paradigm of how we define human rights, helping us gain greater understanding of what is needed to build a better world.”

Ross received a B.A. (2007) from Agnes Scott College and pursued doctoral studies (2008) at Emory University. She joined the Smith faculty in 2019.

Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.