The Iowa State University Alumni Association’s ISU Club of Chicago established the Alumni Merit Award in 1932 to recognize ISU alumni for outstanding humanitarian efforts that transcend purely professional accomplishments and bring honor to the university. Up to two awards are granted annually. This year former political science undergraduate Lee Ann De Reus was given this prestigious award.
Lee Ann De Reus, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on gender, sexualized violence, women’s rights, and activism who has dedicated her career to leading change for vulnerable populations in the U.S. and Africa.
A longtime associate professor at Penn State University Altoona, De Reus has received many awards, authored multiple articles and book chapters, led service-learning trips, and taught classes on family functioning, gender dynamics, and human development across the lifespan. Since August 2017, she has served as the executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project – an organization dedicated to providing pro bono legal representation for survivors of abuse, conducting trainings for judicial and mental health professionals, and advancing legal protections for victims through legislative and policy initiatives.
She is also the co-founder and board chair for Panzi Foundation USA, a nonprofit that assists survivors of gender-based violence at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The organization works to raise awareness and provide resources for the hospital’s after-care programs such as music therapy and literacy – resources that increased tenfold under De Reus’ leadership.
De Reus, who earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from Purdue University, was awarded that institution’s Distinguished Service Alumni Award in 2017. She has also received the Distinguished Donahue Scholar in Residence Award from Lasell College and was an Oxford University Roundtable Scholar. She has delivered more than 100 speeches to audiences at venues such as TEDx and the Oslo Freedom Forum. The mother of a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, she is currently serving as a member of the Purdue University Military Family Research Institute Advisory Council. She is also currently active with the DC Coalition against Domestic Violence, the Carl Wilkens Fellowship Advisory Council, the National Council on Family Relations, and the National Woman’s Party.
She is an ISU Alumni Association life member.