Professional development mentor shares passion for world travel

Janice Reuben standing in fron of Juneau, Alalska sign

Janice Reuben

Janice Reuben's boat was floating amidst a pod of killer whales near Victoria Island, Vancouver, when the matriarch casually breached the surface of the water. Suddenly, dozens of orcas leapt out of the water, creating a serendipitous, dazzling display of nature's elegant beauty, she recalls.

From whale watching in Canada, to strolling by the Eiffel Tower or relaxing in the Caribbean sun, Reuben and her twin sister, Jayne, a faculty member at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, South Carolina, are no strangers to international travel.

"We try to do at least one international vacation a year," she says.

Reuben is the senior associate for programs and outreach for the Center for the Education of Women.

Working at U-M was an easy decision for Reuben. Her three oldest sisters are U-M graduates and Jayne was doing postdoctoral research at Michigan, so in late 2002, she flew from Washington, D.C., to Ann Arbor and started interviewing. After six months, she found a perfect job at CEW as the Women of Color Task Force coordinator.

"I knew it was a great fit for my skills and interests, and I literally said, 'That's my job!" says Reuben.

Reuben's primary responsibilities include serving as the WCTF coordinator and managing CEW's lecture series. WCTF creates opportunities for university employees to receive additional professional development via networking, mentoring and training sessions. It also brings prominent women leaders to campus, ranging from NASA astronaut Mae Jemison to Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art.

Additionally, Reuben organizes the largest annual career conference on campus. The conference is a daylong event with 20 workshops and networking opportunities, and on March 3 it will celebrate its 35th anniversary. This year, the theme is U-M Staff: The Heart of Maize and Blue, a fitting theme recognizing the importance of staff contributions. As she puts it, "Great institutions don't become great institutions without great staff."

As part of the conference, there will also be a free morning keynote address, which is open to all and features Jane Elliott, renowned anti-racism activist and educator, and Roland S. Martin, journalist and political analyst, who will discuss "Race, Gender & Identity in the Workplace." To register for the keynote or for more information about the conference, go to

Outside of work, Reuben provides professional development mentoring with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a national policy coalition of researchers that promotes progress and education in the biological and biomedical sciences.

There, she works with underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math fields to help them make informed career decisions. Mentoring is important to her because everyone needs a support network to help them navigate their career journey.

"It's really important that everyone has an opportunity to get an education so they can figure out what their skill sets are and develop those skills," she said. "An educated workforce that knows and utilizes its strengths is better for the economy."

Reuben's love of travel began as a young girl, traveling with her family. She and her sister Jayne started taking major trips together after she began working at U-M, in 2003. Since then, they have been to various places including the Bahamas, Germany, Mexico, and Barbados.

Her most recent adventure was a trip to Europe last May, planned in conjunction with one of her sister's academic conferences. They spent a week in Paris before heading to the Netherlands. Reuben said she liked Paris because she could practice her French, visit the art museums, shop and, of course, enjoy French cuisine.

Food is crucial to immersing oneself in a place's culture, so Reuben is always adventurous and tries the local fare. One of her favorite Paris meals was in the Latin Quarter at L'Avant Comptoir, a tapas bar, that included a duck confit hot dog, crème brûlée, and great local wines.

Her next big trips include a Mediterranean cruise and travel to Asia where she plans to continue her quest to experience new foods. "Food is important to understand a culture, but sharing a meal with the locals is just as important."

By Ben Bugajski. Reprinted with permission of The University Record.