Changes in staffing at the Catt Center

CATEGORIES: July 2024, Voices

This summer has seen several changes in staffing at the Catt Center.

Carrie Ann JohnsonCarrie Ann Johnson, who had served as the center’s interim research and outreach coordinator since August 2022 and as a graduate assistant at the Catt Center from 2019-2022, is now the associate director of outreach and communication. In this position, Johnson will continue to coordinate the Ready to Run® Iowa campaign training workshops, oversee the Archives of Women’s Political Communication, supervise the center’s undergraduate researchers and voting champions, and host the new Voices podcast (more information on the podcast to be announced soon!).

“I am thrilled to take on this new role as an associate director at the Catt Center,” Johnson said. “I am passionate about helping students succeed in their research and outreach goals, and I look forward to expanding our reach through our upcoming podcast.”

Johnson received her Ph.D. in rhetoric and professional communication at Iowa State in 2022, earning the Iowa State Research Excellence Award and the Karas Award for Outstanding Dissertation for her dissertation, “Whisper Networks: Sexual Harassment Protection Through Informal Networks.” She was also an active member of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

Her research examines the protective communication channels—whisper networks—that women and other minoritized people use to share information about sexual harassment and hostile sexism. She has presented nationally on topics such as the representation of LGBTQ+ experience in videogame rhetoric, the political experiences of women who run for office, and social justice in the business communication classroom.

“Collaborating with such a talented and dedicated team over the past few years has been incredibly inspiring. I am excited to further our civic education, engagement, and participation mission and expand our promotion of community leadership, politics, and public service in Iowa and beyond,” said Johnson.

Before joining the Catt Center, Johnson worked in public relations and content editing and consulted for small businesses and local politicians in her community. She also served in leadership positions for non-profits, schools, and community coalitions.

“In addition to her many talents, Dr. Johnson brings empathy, passion, and energy to her work. We’re happy she’s part of our team,” said Karen M. Kedrowski, Catt Center director.

Amy Erica SmithAmy Erica Smith joined the Catt Center this summer as the associate director of research. Smith, who has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Political Science since 2012 and a Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor since 2020, will be directing research efforts at the center, including the Women in Iowa Politics Database and Gender Balance Project. Dr. Smith will strive to pull together decades of Catt Center data into studies suitable for publication in academic journals and other outlets in addition to the Catt Center’s reports.

Smith received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Her research examines how ordinary people understand and engage in politics, with an emphasis on women and underrepresented groups. She has published four books and numerous peer-reviewed articles. In 2024, she received Iowa State University’s Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Research, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has also recognized her with awards for both early and mid-career achievement in research.

An Andrew Carnegie Fellow in the 2020-24 academic years, Smith has also held fellowships from Fulbright, the Notre Dame Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Luce/ACLS Fellowship in Journalism, Religion, and International Affairs.

Smith has also served on the Ames Community School Board since 2021, and is one half of a creative writing duo.

“Dr. Smith brings qualitative and quantitative research skills plus a passion for improving people’s lives. I am thrilled she is joining the team,” said Kedrowski.

Ashley MontgomeryAshley Montgomery, administrative assistant for the Catt Center since November 2020, worked her last day at the center on June 14. Montgomery, who is working toward her bachelor’s degree in interior design through the New York School of Interior Design’s online program, will be starting a position at Heritage Supply + Design in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a design consultant.

“I am thrilled to start my new career in design – something I have always been passionate about,” Montgomery said. “I am also excited to say goodbye to the cold Iowa winters, but I am going to miss the people. It isn’t often that your coworkers become lifelong friends and mentors but I have been lucky enough to experience that.”

In addition to providing office management and administrative support for Catt Center programming, Montgomery managed the Plaza of Heroines and the “Toward a Universal Suffrage” traveling exhibit and provided event planning services for the center.

“Words can’t express how meaningful my years at the Catt Center were, but I hope my coworkers/friends know how important they are to me and always will be. Thank you for all that you’ve done and all that you are,” said Montgomery.

“Ashley was a valued and talented member of the team. She cared deeply for colleagues and students alike. We miss her and wish her every success,” said Kedrowski.