Rita Reed, a native of St. James, received a history degree from Southwest Missouri State University and master’s from the Missouri School of Journalism. She is a 20-year veteran of newspapers, including 14 years as a staff photographer at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minn. Her photo documentary book, “Growing Up Gay: The Sorrows and Joys of Gay and Lesbian Adolescence,” published in 1997, contributed to her established reputation as a top tier visual storyteller, a photojournalist who initiated many of her own projects on important issues in her community.
When she accepted a one-year professional-in-residence position at the Missouri School of Journalism, Reed was looking for a short break from the newspaper life. Her enthusiasm for teaching quickly became apparent, and she imbued students with her sense of technical perfection in all things photographic and, especially, shared with them her own passion for intimate story telling. The one-year appointment led to a chance to apply for a job; she was “searched” and she was selected.
Reed took over directing the College Photographer of the Year competition and substantially increased the number of schools and students entering; she solidified a funding partnership with Nikon for CPOY, and negotiated Missouri joining Nikon’s School Locker Program, enabling student access to the latest cameras and fastest lenses at no cost to the school. Reed has served eight years as faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop and has made numerous presentations to the National Press Photographers Association and other professional meetings. She created and led international photo workshops in Germany, Romania and Scotland. She supervised exhibits in China and Germany.
Reed is known by her students to be a compassionate taskmaster and a nurturing and understanding mentor, caring deeply about her students and the life and career choices they make, and to be always available to them, well after graduation.