Rebecca Reynolds was born in Washington, DC in 1962. Her maternal grandmother, Pauline Miller Shereshefsky, graduated from the University of Chicago, after which she worked at the Hull House settlement house. She spent her career in social work, later becoming closely associated with Jessie Taft and Virginia Robinson at the University of Pennsylvania and the Otto Rank Association. Her grandfather Judah Leon Shereshefsky was a notable chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project and went on to serve as a professor at Howard University. While Rebecca Reynolds was growing up, her father worked as a psychiatrist in the public sector, and her mother became a psychologist, earning her Ph.D. after her children were grown.

Raised in Chevy Chase, Reynolds attended public schools. She earned her undergraduate degree in English at Vassar College. She received a M.A. in English at Rutgers and MFA at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she studied creative writing and poetry and won the Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry. While a graduate student at Rutgers, she worked at the Institute for Research on Women during the summertime.

Reynolds is the author of two books of poetry, Daughter of the Hangnail (1997), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Bovine Two-Step (2002). She has spent her career at Rutgers dedicated to women's education as an advisor/administrator at Douglass and instructor in English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has been involved in LGBTQIA+ advocacy on campus, serving as a liaison and helping to found the organization Q-mmunity. She worked as the Assistant Director of the Douglass Scholars Program and the Mabel Smith Douglass Honors Program from 1991 to 2000 and as Assistant Dean of Academic Services from 2000 to 2007. Currently, she serves at Douglass Residential College as the Assistant Dean and Director of Mentoring and Advising at the BOLD Center (Building Opportunities for Leadership and Career Development) and as the Director of the Mary I. Bunting Program for Returning Women Students.

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