About Dr. Julie Laut



Dr. Julie Laut has been a progressive community activist for over 25 years. While her life's journey has twisted and turned, she has at all times been guided by a love of learning and a desire to build strong communities. After  earning an undergrad degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Julie taught high school history and coached women's track and volleyball in Portland, Oregon. Julie was a member of Portland Area Rethinking Schools and an active member of the teacher's union. 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 with 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. She went back to school when her two children were small, eventually 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 outreach and development.


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, where she helped raise over $70,000 to install solar panels, fostered increased building accessibility, and lead the congregation to commit to work on racial justice. Her work with UUCUC continues in the areas of 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.


The pandemic opened up a number of new paths for Julie. She launched CU Lockdown Trivia in March 2020, helping raise over $18,000 for non-profit organizations by the end of 2020. At the same time, in response to increased food insecurity, Julie established a Little Free Pantry in her front yard that she continues to maintain. 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 to all those lost in Champaign County during the pandemic. The memorial was dedicated on January 21, 2021.

Julie currently lives in Urbana, Illinois, with her husband, Marc, youngest child, Celia, and three dogs in a creaky brick house that just turned 150 years old. Her oldest, Julian, is away at college, but to her delight still periodically joins Friday night trivia. Julie periodically writes academic and other types of articles, reads voraciously, loves crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and word games, can't resist zombie movies or BBC shows, and delights in quality wine and cheese. Mostly she loves getting together with friends to share laughter, conversation, and good food!