Katie Rose Guest Pryal

• Bestselling author & law professor on mental health and #MeToo

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D., is an award-winning author, speaker, and law professor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education (2017). She is also the author of The Freelance Academic: Transform Your Creative Life and Career (2019, Winner of a Gold INDIE-award) and Even If You’re Broken: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo (2019, Winner of a Gold IPPY award).

She is a columnist for Catapult Magazine, where she writes the popular column "Mom, Interrupted” on being a disabled mom of disabled kids; for The Chronicle of Higher Education, where she writes the monthly column “The Public Writing Life” on public engagement for academics; and for Women in Higher Education, where she covers timely topics such as sexual assault and harassment and more. She regularly gives talks on mental health, sexual violence, and writing to a variety of groups around the country.

Katie attended boarding school for four years at Westtown School, a Friends school outside of Philadelphia, after which she attended Duke University. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship, and her law degree from UNC School of Law. After law school, she clerked for a federal judge, practiced law, and earned her doctorate from UNC-Greensboro in English, specializing in Rhetoric and Composition. After graduating, she joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she taught in the English Department and the law school. She now writes full time, runs a publishing company, teaches as an adjunct at UNC Law, and raises two incredible children alongside a house full of shelter pets and a supportive spouse.

Speech topics

Building a Sustaining Solo Business in the New Gig Economy

Katie Pryal, author of the award-winning book THE FREELANCE ACADEMIC, inspires listeners to build sustainable work in the jungle of the new gig economy. Pryal built a second career while teaching as a non-tenure-track law professor—until finally making the leap out of the academy. In this talk, she shares her secrets for success. Not just for academics, this talk inspires listeners to transform their current skills, whatever they may be, into something sustaining—professionally and personally. Pryal helps listeners figure out the best kind of work for them, whether they are starting from the ground up with a brand new career or adding onto the work they are already doing. She provides practical tips for how to set up different types of business formations, from sole proprietorships all the way to corporations, describing the benefits of each for each type of business. Audiences will leave her talk inspired and informed.

The Mind Matters: Building Stronger Communities Through Mental Health Acceptance

How do we make a better world—big and small—in the face of the immense neurodiversity we are only beginning to understand? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 5 US adults will experience a mental disorder every year. This high rate takes its toll: on family, friends, workplaces, and, most of all, on the people themselves—who must deal not only with their disabilities but with lack of understanding and acceptance.

In this talk, Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D., author of the bestselling book Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education, applies her decade of research on mental health and organizations to guide your group toward a holistic understanding of mental health, community, accessibility, and wellness. In either a keynote or workshop format, customized to your organization's needs, Dr. Pryal brings inspirational guidance that executives, leaders, and all organizational members can use to set a tone of support and growth.

Mom, Interrupted: Supporting Exceptional Children, Their Parents, and Their Communities

What do exceptional children need from their communities in order to live happy and successful lives?

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D., was an exceptional child with exceptional needs—and now she’s raising two of them herself. Bestselling author and writer of the popular column “Mom, Interrupted” for the magazine Catapult, Dr. Pryal draws on her own childhood experiences as she recounts heartwarming and hilarious stories of parenting her exceptional children. Schools, parenting organizations, social workers, and other groups that care about children will fall in love with Dr. Pryal's heartfelt, frustrating, yet somehow funny stories from the parenting front lines. And they will leave with key takeways: from protecting the privacy of children in our age of oversharing to figuring out how to find the right adults to include in a child's life. (Hint: They're not always who you think they should be). Although the road we're traveling right now isn't always accessible for disabled kids, together we can help make the ride a little smoother.


Even If You're Broken: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo

How do we make a good life in a world where sexual violence always lurks in the shadows?

The Freelance Academic: Transform Your Creative Life and Career

Higher education has changed—and we have to change with it. The Freelance Academic will show you how.

Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education

Academia isn’t an easy place to be if your brain isn’t quite right.

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