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Announcing the 2019 Reproductive Health, Rights, & Justice Fellows

By October 15, 2019October 30th, 2019No Comments


Rockwood is proud to announce the 2019 Fellowship for Leaders in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Fellows!

This fellowship brings together 24 leaders from across the nation, an exciting cross-section of the movement that spans different strategies, demographics, and regions. It is designed to give leaders an opportunity to delve deeper into their leadership development and build stronger partnerships for a greater impact on the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement.

The 2019 Fellowship for Leaders in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Fellows are:


Leila Abolfazli | Director of Federal Reproductive Rights, National Women’s Law Center

Leila is director of federal reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, an organization that fights for gender justice. Leila has been a legislative lawyer for nearly a decade spending most of this time defending reproductive rights at the federal level. For two years, she was a clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown Law School where she taught law students legislative lawyering while also supporting the advocacy efforts of KIND (Kids In Need of Defense). Before turning to legislative lawyering, she was a lawyer at Wilmer Hale where she focused on international arbitration and worked on pro bono projects defending reproductive rights. She is originally from Nashville, TN, which she talks about all of the time. She now lives in D.C. with her spouse, two kids, and lion cat.


Jennifer Allen | CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes NH & Planned Parenthood Advocates of IN & KY

Jennifer works to protect and promote reproductive health, rights, and justice in Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, and nationwide in her roles as CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky. She previously served as CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, leading that team to major election victories in 2017 and translating those victories into successful Medicaid expansion and increased access to contraception.


Aimee Arrambide | Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Foundation

Aimee was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and is a first/second generation American of Filipina and Mexican descent. She was inspired to go into reproductive health, rights, and justice by her father who was an abortion provider in central and south Texas. She studied philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin and received her Juris Doctor from New York Law School. She co-wrote and edited the Public Leadership Institute’s Playbook for Abortion Rights, serves on the advisory council of ReproAction, and is a National Network of Abortion Funds We Testify Storyteller. She currently serves as the first person of color executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas where she works to protect and expand access to abortion care in Texas.


Myra Batchelder | Co-Founder, Reproductive Health Happy Hour

Myra has worked in the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice movement for more than 15 years. She co-founded and leads the Reproductive Health Happy Hour, movement-building and networking events that began in New York City and are now held in over 35 cities worldwide. She also leads a consulting company and has worked on policy and advocacy, program development and management, network-building, and grantmaking with Center for Reproductive Rights, Ipas, Women Deliver, Ibis Reproductive Health, Reproductive Health Technologies Project, International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, and others. Previously, Myra led programs and projects at nonprofits, including as Director of the Low-Income Access Program at National Institute for Reproductive Health and Community Advocacy Manager at Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US. She holds an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. Myra grew up in rural Michigan and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Sheila Desai | Senior Research Associate, Guttmacher Institute

Sheila is a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, where her work aims to advance abortion provision and access, improve adolescent sexual health, and bring into focus the reproductive health needs and priorities of immigrants and Asian communities in the United States. Previously, she worked with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) to expand access to abortion care in California. She has served on the board of the New York Abortion Access Fund and is a proud We Testify abortion storyteller. Sheila recently earned a doctoral degree in epidemiology from the CUNY School of Public Health. She is a New Yorker at heart, but makes her home in Oakland, California, where she spends her free time with family and friends, tending to her plants, and hiking in the mountains.


Jenny Dodson Mistry | Associate Director of Local Advocacy, National Institute for Reproductive Health

Jenny is the associate director of local advocacy at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. At NIRH, she has the privilege of working with organizations to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice in their communities. She developed the Local Reproductive Freedom Index as a resource and roadmap for cities and local leaders. She also leads NIRH’s LARC Access Project, an initiative to increase access to contraception in states using a patient-centered framework. Previously, Jenny worked at NJ SEEDS, an organization that helps students access quality educational opportunities, where she created their Internships & Job Opportunities program. After leaving NJ SEEDS to pursue her MPH at Columbia University, Jenny launched the NJ SEEDS Alumni Association, where she remains an active volunteer. Jenny loves birds, traveling despite her regular misadventures, and is learning to embroider.


Mars Earle | Director, Carolina Abortion Fund

Mars is a Black multiracial queer femme finding home in the South. Mars is in practice of studying embodied wonder through their work as a reproductive and healing justice organizer, doula, facilitator, and sci-fi experiment. As the director and a former grantee of the Carolina Abortion Fund, Mars leads the fund in connecting a responsive community network of financial, logistical, and emotional support for abortion patients across North and South Carolina. They are proud to be growing a pro-abortion, queer-affirming, person-first organization committed to expanding abortion access and reproductive freedom at intersections of race, class, and gender. Elsewhere they can often be found in the river, road tripping to somewhere new, or snuggled up with something to read and their small pack of animals.


Aditi Fruitwala | Staff Attorney, ACLU of Southern California

Aditi is a staff attorney with the LGBTQ, Gender, and Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California, focusing on protecting access to reproductive healthcare, expanding the rights of pregnant and parenting people, combatting discrimination against transgender and non-binary individuals, and improving the conditions and treatment in incarceration settings for women and LGBTQ individuals. Prior to the ACLU of Southern California, Aditi was a deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice. During law school, Aditi served at the co-editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, and Justice, dedicating a special issue to abortion rights and speech, and co-founded a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Aditi has a JD from Berkeley School of Law and an MSc in anthropology from the London School of Economics. Aditi proudly sits on the board of Satrang, an organization serving the needs of LGBTQ South Asians in Southern California.


Nicolle Gonzales | Executive Director and Founder, Changing Woman Initiative

Nicolle is a Dine’ Nurse-Midwife from New Mexico and is a member of the Navajo Nation. She has recently joined the Groundswell Foundation board of directors. She is considered a leading expert around Indigenous midwifery and reproductive rights in Native American communities. She founded and currently works as the executive director of Changing Woman Initiative and believes birth, midwifery, and women’s traditional ways of living are avenues towards healing justice. She is a published author and her writing focuses on the intersectionality of reproductive and birth justice, indigenous feminism, and midwifery.


Karla Gonzales Garcia | Policy Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

Karla is the policy director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). Since moving to the U.S from Peru, Karla has focused on outreach and engagement with immigrant communities, advocacy for and with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, education and advocacy for sexual and reproductive health, and advancing reproductive justice policy. Karla was recently appointed to the Colorado’s Governor “Health Care Cost Analysis Task Force” where she will be working towards the creation of a state public option. Karla earned her MA in Ethnic Studies with Women and Gender Studies in 2016 from Colorado State University where she developed a strong foundation in research, skills and knowledge to advance a decolonial, multiracial, transnational feminist, and human rights centered framework.


Nikia Grayson | Director of Midwifery, CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health

Nikia is an anthropologist and nurse-midwife who has devoted her life to educating people regarding their sexual and reproductive health. Nikia is the director of midwifery at CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, where she works to provide full-spectrum, comprehensive reproductive care. Nikia has more than 10 years of experience working in public health, with her more recent work focusing on reproductive rights, birth justice, and midwifery. Nikia currently serves on the boards of SisterReach and Healthy and Free Tennessee. Nikia graduated from Howard University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communications and public health, from University of Memphis with a master’s in anthropology and from University of Tennessee with a master’s in nursing and a doctorate in nurse practice. She completed her post-master’s certificate in midwifery at Frontier Nursing University. When not working, Nikia loves reading, eating good food and being with her husband and two children.


Latishia James-Portis | Program Manager, Move to End Violence

Latishia (she/her/hers) is a writer, advocate, movement chaplain, and Program Manager for Move to End Violence (MEV). She lives — and works — at the intersection of faith, sexuality, reproductive and healing justice. Most recently she was assistant director of prevention and response at historic Spelman College, where she helped students navigate sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. Keen on innovating for more compassion, Latishia is also known as “Reverend Pleasure” and a founding member at O.School, a multimedia platform for shame-free sexual education. In addition to her role at MEV, Latishia is the vice president of the board at All-Options, and an advisory board member for EnFaith – Engaging Georgia’s Faith Communities for Promoting Reproductive Health. When she’s not talking about the trinity of sex, God, and social justice, ask her about the transformative power of good food and a shared meal, the latest book she’s reading, or meet her on the dance floor.


Sophia Kerby | Deputy Director of Reproductive Rights, State Innovation Exchange

Sophia is the director of reproductive rights at State Innovation Exchange (SiX), where she works directly with state legislators to pass policies that expand access to our collective reproductive freedom. In her previous role as the senior manager of state and local campaigns at Advocates for Youth, Sophia worked with state-based organizations and youth activists to advance comprehensive sexual health education policy in five states across the Deep South. She also serves on the board of the Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP), a national nonprofit organization that works directly with primary care providers to integrate abortion, contraception, and miscarriage care into their practices, and is an abortion doula in northern Virginia.


Erin Matson | Co-Founder/ Co-Director, Reproaction

Erin is an action person. She believes it is always the right time to do the right thing, and brings relentless creativity, direct action, and fun to her left-flank work for gender equality and reproductive health, rights, and justice. A writer, activist, and organizer, she is co-founder and co-director of Reproaction, a national group formed to increase access to abortion and advance reproductive justice. Erin has held national and state-level leadership roles throughout her career, currently serving on the board of directors of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Foundation and the steering committee of the American Society for Emergency Contraception. Erin’s essays have been published in three books and she is a regular panelist on PBS’ To The Contrary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and a certificate in non-profit management from Georgetown University. Once, she stunned Phyllis Schlafly speechless in a debate.


Dr. Colleen McNicholas | Chief Medical Office, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri

Dr. McNicholas recently joined Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri as the chief medical officer after a decade in academic medicine.  As an OB/GYN, and specialist in family planning and abortion care, she lives out her personal and professional commitment to abortion access by providing clinical care in 4 states across the Midwest and South.  She has grown into an unapologetic and vocal advocate engaging in every available medium. She has been the plaintiff to numerous challenges of state and federal laws and regulations and has recently been recognized with the Planned Parenthood Media Excellence Award and Human Rights Campaign Leadership Award.


Mariko Miki | Deputy Director, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice

Mariko is a reproductive justice lawyer who was born in Japan and raised in the U.S. south. She is the deputy director at If/When/How, where she oversees the organization’s people, programs, and policies. During her tenure, Mariko also created and directed the Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program, now in its 10th year, which has launched the careers of 70+ new legal advocates. Mariko graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School and now calls California home. She spends her leisure time reading about true crime and parenting her two boys.


Shilpa Phadke | Vice President of the Women’s Initiative, Center for American Progress

Shilpa is the vice president of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress. In this capacity, she oversees policy, research, and advocacy work on a wide range of women’s issues — including women’s economic security, women’s health and rights, and women’s leadership. She strives to ensure that women are at the center of the progressive agenda.  Shilpa has over 20 years of experience – in government, campaigns and non-profits. She formerly served in the Obama Administration as the special assistant to the president for Cabinet affairs and as a policy adviser on the Obama-Biden presidential transition team. Originally from Massachusetts, Shilpa began her career working in Capitol Hill, where she played a key role in advocacy for families affected by 9/11. An adjunct professor at American University, Shilpa teaches a course on women, politics and public policy. She is a graduate of Boston College and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She currently lives in DC with her husband and two children.


Jessica Pinckney | Vice President of Government Affairs, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Jessica is the vice president of government affairs at In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, a national and state partnership with eight Black women’s reproductive justice organizations.  Jessica previously served as government relations manager for YWCA USA, one of the oldest women’s organizations in the country and the legislative analyst at the University of California (UC) Office of Federal Governmental Relations, representing the most recognized and renowned public institutions of higher education in the country. Jessica holds an MA in government with a concentration in political communications from John’s Hopkins University and a BA in Political Science with an emphasis in public service from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In her spare time, Jessica serves as the vice chair to the board of directors for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington and the chapter co-director of New Leaders Council DC.


Marisa Pizii | Deputy Director of Programs, Civil Liberties and Public Policy

Marisa oversees all Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) programs, including CLPP’s emerging leaders network, campus programs, and summer internship program. Prior to CLPP, Marisa co-directed the Prison Birth Project and the Mothers of Color Awareness Initiative. She has served on locally-based organizational boards, most recently joining the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Mass. Since 2016, Marisa has facilitated a support group for people who’ve had an abortion later in pregnancy due to fetal anomalies. She has a Master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a BA in public policy and women’s studies from the University of North Carolina. Raised in eastern North Carolina, Marisa has lived in Western Mass since 2005. She shares her life with her husband, three children, and their pets.


Lindsay Rodriguez | Communications Director, National Network of Abortion Funds

Lindsay is a multiracial Texan and board member at Fund Texas Choice helping to support fundraising and communications in support of grassroots Texas abortion access and illuminate the barriers Texans face when they must travel for their abortions. The first full-time communications staff member at National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) and now NNAF’s communications director, Lindsay helped build and guide the voice and strategy of NNAF in support of W/PoC grassroots leadership through cutting edge narrative, messaging, fundraising, social media, earned media, and merchandising strategies. She led the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon, the largest grassroots abortion fundraiser in the world, towards a record-breaking amount in support of local abortion funding. Lindsay was the first San Antonio-based board member and then president of the Lilith Fund. She’s passionate about the dynamism and innovation of red state activists and creatives in narrative shifting and culture change.


Quita Tinsley | Co-Director, Access Reproductive Care-Southeast

Quita is a Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and works to build sustainable change in the South. They hold a BA in journalism with a minor in sociology from Georgia State University.  Quita currently serves as the co-director of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, where they focus on strengthening the abortion fund’s operations, programs, and organizational voice.  They are also an alum of Echoing Ida, a Black women and nonbinary folks’ writing collective of Forward Together. Their writing has been featured in publications such as Feministing, Black Girl Dangerous, and Scalawag.  As a queer Black non-binary Southerner, it is through their lived experiences that Quita has come to believe in the power of storytelling and collective resistance. And through their work, in all of its forms, they hope to continue fighting for liberation in the South and beyond.


Jennifer Wang | Deputy Director of Programs, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Jennifer is passionate about intersectional policy and systems change with a focus on the power of women of color, immigrants, youth, and more. With nearly a decade of experience in policy and government affairs, Jennifer centers communities facing the largest barriers to thrive through her work. She directed programs that build power with Asian American & Pacific Islander women and girls using the reproductive justice lens. Jennifer built and managed a coalition of 80+ organizations to fight fraud and abuse in student lending. She created a youth start-up nonprofit’s policy and government affairs systems from the ground up, helping an abortion fund with its first foray into policymaking, and developing an expertise in negotiated rulemaking and administrative and legislative advocacy to hold for-profit colleges accountable to students. Jennifer is an alumna of UCLA and the University of Iowa, College of Law.


Amanda Williams | Executive Director, Lilith Fund

Amanda is a proud daughter of an immigrant, and a queer Chicana with more than ten years of experience working in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement. Amanda is originally from Houston, Texas where she planted her roots as a community organizer. Amanda holds a Master’s in political social work from the University of Houston and has extensive background in nonprofit management, program development, policy, advocacy, and fundraising. She has been Lilith Fund’s executive director since 2016. Under her leadership, Lilith Fund has supported thousands of Texans seeking abortion care and expanded its programming to include emotional support and organizing. Her writing has been published in Glamour Magazine, TribTalk, and the Feminist Wire. She is also a board member for Youth Rise Texas, an organization that works to develop the leadership of youth of color who are directly impacted by incarceration and deportation.

Rockwood Community Call

Kris Mereigh,  MPH, CWP.

public health and wellness strategist

June 27 | 12 PT / 3 ET