Catching up with...Leahanna Pelish ’07

Publication Date

Leahanna Pelish ’07 is “local through and through.”

The administrative assistant for the departments of Anthropology, Classics and Philosophy, and the Religious Studies program, Pelish has worked at Union since 2016. She grew up just down the road in Niskayuna and graduated with honors from Union College (double major in philosophy and political science).

Leahanna and Vinson

Leahanna Pelish ’07 and her child, Vinson (by Hagetaka Outdoors, Rainer Pelish Photography)

Now living on Nott Street, she holds a master’s in philosophy from the University at Albany, where she was an adjunct professor for several years, mostly teaching ethics. During that time, she was also pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy. After passing her comprehensive exams, she put her dissertation on pause, though she is “still interested in completing my work on sexual violence if I could find a suitable gender studies program.”

At Union, Pelish assists students and professors in any way she can to help facilitate the academic experience. She is also devoted to diversity and inclusion work on campus and beyond its gates.

“I am outspoken when it comes to issues of oppression and am vocal about my own intersectional identities,” Pelish said. “This is so that others may also feel comfortable sharing who they are and, when needed, speaking out about the injustices they may face. I am a survivor of gendered violence, a genderfluid nonbinary woman, pansexual and naturally polyamorous.”

She loves animals, especially cats.

“We have one furry family member named Miss Molly MD, MA. We weren’t totally sure she was actually a cat at first because she is a quirky little one, but she is really growing into her family role.”

Pelish’s family also includes husband Rainer and another very special member, who arrived just over a year ago.

“I am now a mom! Vinson (they/them) was born September 2022 and is the light of my life. Being their mom is the most wonderful thing I could ever imagine.”

Catching up with...

Each week a faculty or staff member is profiled. Answering a series of short questions, the profiles are intended to be light, informative and conversational.

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Pelish’s favorite things include thrifting, crafting and organizing, as well as throwing theme parties to celebrate special occasions. She enjoys lots of different kinds of food, whether that be cooking at home or eating at local restaurants.

“I am known to flout social norms in many ways and am an open book,” she said. “So, if you want to know more about me, come by Lamont and have a cuppa with me or feel free to add me on social media.”

FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING: I tend to make sure I do not have any FB messenger alerts first and then I check FB notifications, email and blink.

GO-TO BREAKFAST: I usually do not have breakfast; most days I treat myself to a very sweet and light coffee throughout the day. I do love breakfast foods and am I big proponent of brinner (breakfast for dinner). I really enjoy eggs benedict and variations thereof.

WHAT’S THE LAST GREAT BOOK YOU READ? Although I am loathe to admit it, I will be honest. I do not read for pleasure often despite otherwise being a proud nerdy type. In part due to academic burnout and in part due to aphantasia, reading is not my preferred method for entertainment. The last book I read that really moved me was “Rethinking Rape” by Ann Cahill. I intended to use it as a main source for my dissertation.

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED: I usually do not turn to others for advice or find it particularly salient. I do think good advice can come from anyone and anywhere, so you should always be receptive and openminded. Though it may sound pretentious, I am a very odd duck and rarely do I feel that outside advice applies to my particulars. However, I do find many memes and groups beneficial, especially Naturally Polyamorous’s FB page as well and The Secure Attachment FB page.

FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT: Lake George is special for me and my partner, Rainer. I was invited to enjoy time at his family’s lake house in high school and every year once we reconnected in college. It is where we were married.

WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW?: I’ve been struggling to find a new binge worthy watch. I have most recently enjoyed “Nancy Drew,” “Our Flag Means Death” and “Lego Masters.”

ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD: I wish I could play an instrument well because I love music and have such admiration for those who are talented. But it is not something that comes easy to me.

THREE DINNER PARTY GUESTS (living or deceased): My grandmother, Lauretta – she is the inspiration for all of my theme parties, and I miss her beyond measure. Truth is, if I could have dinner with her, that’s all I need. It would be interesting to invite Jesus and Nietzsche as well. I think she would enjoy that.

FIRST CONCERT: It was at the New York State Fair. But if you mean the first concert where tickets were bought just for that reason, it was actually Good Charlotte with my cousin, who was a fan. My family determined she was allowed to go, but my grandma and aunt would accompany us. She insisted I dress up to fit in and I looked FANTASTIC. I still brag about it to this day to tease her because she was so surprised I could pull off the “lewk.”

LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU: I somewhat recently started EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy for CPTSD (Complex post-traumatic stress disorder) and it was determined that I likely exhibit OCD tendencies, as well. It is really liberating to have a new lens for understanding myself, and I highly recommend EMDR therapy. If you think it might be useful for you, feel free to ask me about my experience.