About Dr. Julie Laut



Dr. Julie Laut has been a progressive community activist for over 25 years. In the 1990s, while teaching high school social studies in Portland, Oregon, Julie was a member of Portland Area Rethinking Schools. Her work organizing new educators at the local level led her to co-found an annual state-wide Oregon Education Association (OEA) conference, for which she was awarded the OEA 1999 Presidential Citation for New Leadership. After her first child was born in 2001, Julie worked in breastfeeding advocacy through the Nursing Mothers Counsel, through which she helped secure a three-year grant from the U.S. Office of Women’s Health to expand lactation services to low-income parents in 2002.


Julie's career path has twisted and turned, but has at all times been guided by a love of learning and a desire to build strong communities. After her earning an undergrad degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, she taught high school history and coached women's track and volleyball for several years. She went back to school when her two children were small, earning an MA in gender and women's history from Miami University in Ohio, and a PhD in transnational feminist history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Julie's work with the University of Illinois Press after the completion of her PhD focused on building a development program and creating outreach opportunities on all three U of I campuses.


Julie has been deeply involved in community work since moving to Champaign-Urbana in 2009. She served for three years on the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees. She is most proud of helping raise over $70,000 to install solar panels on the building, fostering increased building accessibility, and leading the congregation to commit to work on racial justice. Her work with UUCUC continues in the areas of pastoral care, youth engagement, and lay ministry. During a short tenure on the Urbana City Council in 2020, Julie led Urbana to embrace anti-racist work through membership in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and encouraged a renewal of youth engagement.


Julie launched CU Lockdown Trivia in March 2020, helping raise over $18,000 for non-profit organizations by the end of 2020. In response to increased food insecurity during the pandemic, Julie and her family maintain a Little Free Pantry in their front yard. Her work in these areas was recognized with the 2020 Outstanding Community Partner award from the UIUC International Students & Scholars Services.


Julie also spearheaded the creation of "Open Hearts: A COVID Memorial," a public memorial dedicated on January 21, 2021. First hosted by UUCUC, the memorial consists of heart-shaped markers that represent the deaths of all those lost in Champaign County during the pandemic.

Julie currently lives in Urbana, Illinois, with her husband, Marc, high schooler, Celia, and three phenomenal dogs in a house that just turned 175 years old. Her oldest child, Julian, is away at college, but to her delight they still periodically join trivia Friday nights. Julie sometimes writes academic and other types of articles, reads fiction voraciously (from sci-fi and fantasy to mystery and high literature), loves crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and word games, can't resist zombie movies or BBC shows, and delights in quality wine and cheese. She can't wait to get back to hosting dinner parties and has lots of trips planned for when the world is safe again for those types of things!