Mary Emily O’Hara, Art History, Class of 2012

O’Hara is a non-traditional student whose pre-Reed activities included working as a journalist and union organizer as well as helping found Spread Magazine, a magazine about the sex industry that engages sex workers to write from their own experience. Her other sex work-related projects have included founding the Philadelphia Sex Workers Project in 2001, and working as an assistant to Priscilla Alexander, editor of seminal anthology Sex Work, at New York City HIV prevention non-profit FROST’D (From Our Streets With Dignity). She also organized chapters of the young feminist performance collective Radical Cheerleaders, which were featured as one of Ms. Magazine’s 2001 “Women of the Year,” and co-produced a short documentary titled “Cheer Up! Don’t Let the System Get You Down,” which has played at over 200 film festivals since its release in 2004. And she did most of these things using the secret identity/wacky pen name “Mary Christmas.”

O’Hara has also interned as a Youth Program Coordinator with Q Center, Portland’s LGBTQ community center, for the past two years. At Q Center, she has worked on outreach and support projects including partnerships with community organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and businesses like Nike, built an extensive database of resources for LGBTQ youth, networked with area GSA’s/Gay-Straight Alliances at schools, and assisted with Q Center’s 2012 merge with the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC).(See LGBTQ Issues section for more information about O’Hara’s work.)

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