James Madison University

Ever Wonder How We Got Here?
Renee Staton’s Story

By: Jacqueline Jessop
Posted: March 18, 2015

PHOTO:Renee  Staton

Renee Staton began her collegiate career at James Madison University (JMU), where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. It was during her undergraduate career that she was first drawn to the open, individual communication that is critical in psychology. Through her study of communication arts, she was made aware of the media’s power to influence and even manipulate the public. Rather than desiring to join the media and use it to influence others, she was struck by the desire to communicate with people one-on-one, giving them the opportunity to be free of manipulation and of the pressures that society puts on them to conform.

Renee is still passionate about helping individuals to be free from cultural pressures to conform to an oppressive society. This passion has led to her specializations in multicultural and social issues, as well as women’s concerns and family issues. She is especially passionate about helping people to overcome the stigmas that are often attached to LGBT, various ethnicities, differing genders, and social classes. Believing that each person has the right to equality, she also works hard to help students and clients find their voices and fair treatment within their social systems.

After graduating from JMU with her B.S., Renee worked in JMU Student Activities and later became the Director of Leadership Education and Development. While working for the university, she also worked toward the completion of her Master of Education Degree in College Student Personnel Administration. It was at this time that she met her husband-to-be, a fellow employee of the university, Steve Grande. After completing her M.Ed at JMU, Renee went to the University of Virginia (UVA) to complete her doctorate in counseling, where she completed a dissertation on the experience of counselor supervision. Researching for her dissertation gave Renee insight into what counseling students want and need in their curriculum, which has been invaluable to her as a professor. While Renee studied at UVA, Steve moved to pursue his doctorate at the University of Maryland. After Renee had completed her doctorate, she and Steve were married and moved to California so that she could work for the Counseling Master’s Program at the California State University of Fresno (Fresno State), where she specialized in marriage and family counseling and clinical counseling.

After two years at Fresno State, Renee returned to Virginia with her husband, so that he could work again for James Madison University. It was at this time that she joined the Graduate Psychology Department at JMU, where she currently teaches Developmental Psych, Multicultural Counseling, Introduction to School Counseling, Supervision and Consultation, and, on occasion, Advanced Multicultural Counseling. She was also the lead author of Becoming a Community Counselor: Personal and Professional Explorations and contributed to Thriving!: A Manual for Students in the Helping Professionals, both of which were written with colleagues from the James Madison University Graduate Psychology Department. In addition, she received the William van Hoose Memorial Award in 1997 and the William van Hoose Career Service Award in 2013. She is also working collaboratively with Dr. Michele Kielty and Dr. Tammy Gilligan on programs to teach mindfulness to students at local schools.

When she is not working at JMU or within the community, Renee enjoys walking around cities, parks, or forests, exploring her surroundings. She also enjoys spending quality time with her husband and two children.