Executive Director: Kate Cockrill, MPH
“We all need to be reminded that sometimes, the best thing for us to do is to stop, drop our own agenda, and listen to the people around us. People are watching us for cues about how to communicate about abortion. Sometimes it’s how we listen that people will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Kate Cockrill is a leading researcher conceptualizing and measuring abortion stigma in the US and around the world. From 2006 to 2013, Kate was a researcher and program director at the ANSIRH program at the University of California studying the social and emotional aspects of abortion. In 2014, she and Steph Herold founded the Sea Change program to expand her multidisciplinary research into programming, evaluation and movement building. She has authored 12 peer-reviewed, scholarly articles and her research on stigma has been profiled in The New York Times, Newsweek, Salon, Slate and RH Reality Check.
Deputy Director: Steph Herold, MPH
“I want to figure out how we leverage our vulnerability into power, without worrying that if we talk about our breakdowns or our abortions, we might sound weak, irrational, or emotional. I want to help build a movement where we speak from our experiences and our values in addition to using science and statistics.”
Steph is an award-winning activist and researcher with a background in abortion care, abortion funds, and reproductive health advocacy. Her writing has been featured in The Nation, RH Reality Check, Jezebel, and Our Bodies, Ourselves. Steph is a recognized expert on abortion access, appearing in various media outlets including the Melissa Harris-Perry Show. Campus Progress named Steph one of the top 15 young feminists and Time magazine profiled her abortion rights activism in January 2013. She served on the Board of Directors of the New York Abortion Access Fund for three years, and is beginning a two-year term serving on the ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice Board of Directors.
The Untold Stories Campaign Manager: Lucia Leandro Gimeno, MSW
“I was raised in a radical organizing, dyke, immigrant home where we talked feelings and what our people need. Abortions, pregnancy, politics and family were always dinner conversation. I was a latchkey kid who watched his mama battle the stigma of being an out lesbian while working alongside conservative religious Latino mothers. They embraced her because she stood up with and for them. This is what culture change is about: connection and sharing stories in the hopes that the assumptions that keep us apart can not only be broken down, they can lead to incredible transformation.”
Lucia Leandro Gimeno, who also goes by LL or Leandro, is a trans social worker based in Atlanta, GA. LL is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work, where his focus was on clinical practice within an anti-oppression framework. He lived in New York City for 13 years, organizing with queer and transgender communities of color. He was a founding board member of FIERCE and former staff at The Audre Lorde Project. He was part of Ping Chong + Company’s Secret Survivors, a play about adult survivors of child sexual abuse. A current member of SONG (Southerners On New Ground), a southern regional LGBTQ organization, Leandro is also a future full-spectrum doula, expert chilaquiles maker, fashion queen, movement builder, and listener extraordinaire.
Summer Fellow: Renee Bracey Sherman
“As a woman of color and a person who has had an abortion, I endure the stigma and shame created within our society – my heart still races with fear when uttering the words, “I had an abortion.” I want to create space for people like me to live without shame, and ensure that conversations about abortion center our voices, stories, and experiences.”
Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice activist who shares her own abortion experience to encourage others who have had abortions to speak out and end the silence and stigma. Renee is a writer with Echoing Ida, a Black Women’s writing collective through Strong Families. She’s shared her story on the BBC World Newshour, EBONY.com, RH Reality Check, The Atlantic.com, and various college campuses through her Generative Fellowship with CoreAlign. Currently, Renee is a graduate student at Cornell University pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration, and is the Editor of Online Content for the Cornell Policy Review.
Summer Fellow: Pam Conelly
“Coming of age in the 1980s, my belief that women should have agency over their bodies and reproductive health fit in well with my immersion in punk-rock culture. However, it wasn’t until I lived in Ireland for four years that I came to truly comprehend the oppressive reality many women face when trying to control their reproductive lives. Supporting friends there, who had to make difficult journeys to another country in order to access abortion, was a powerful ignition for my move into reproductive health and justice activism. I began to fully understand that women all over the world, including in my beloved California, experience real and harmful barriers to abortion and other reproductive health services.”
Pam is a Masters in Public Health student at San Jose State University and current summer fellow at Sea Change. She formerly managed the health center at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Pam is interested in the different ways people experience abortion stigma and seeks to gain a more thorough understanding of the complexity of abortion stigma and ways it can be reduced. Pam volunteers as a clinic escort and helps to organize public events promoting discussion about reproductive justice.
“Early on in my career, I worked locally with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth as a peer counselor and I also worked with children and young artists from the Bayview and Mission District in San Francisco. I quickly learned that every person has a story and a spirit and with the right support is capable of creating something beautiful and powerful that can communicate with the world. As my work moved towards state and national level law and policy, I never forgot how important the sharing of story and experience is in changing hearts and minds.”
Leanna is Donor Information and Data director at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Foundation in Oakland, CA. Nothing frustrates her more than when something important and progressive cannot happen simply because the money and the infrastructure isn’t there to move it forward. She has spent her career building the back end foundation for many projects and non-profit organizations to help them take the next step into their future.
Rachel Herndon, MSW, ASW
“I work firsthand with women who are struggling with pregnancy decisions. They have to manage the judgments of their communities and the larger society with their own internal judgments. Reducing stigma about all possible pregnancy outcomes helps women and their families make healthy choices.”
Rachel Herndon, MSW ASW, is the Director of Birthparent Services at Adoption Connection, a nonprofit open adoption agency in San Francisco. She is passionate about working with women experiencing unintended pregnancies to create the best plan for their situation and advocating for supportive, accurate, best practice services.
Laura Lee, JD
“I was in elementary school when I watched a news report on television about protesters outside of an abortion clinic. I asked my parents what was going on and they explained simply but directly what was happening and why. Even though I was young their truth-telling made sense to me. It wasn’t until much later that I understood the magnitude of the stigma surrounding abortion. Now as the parent of three young children I am grateful for my parents’ early candor. I think that every kid deserves to understand reproductive choices without shame.”
Laura Lee is an attorney who has been involved in social justice advocacy for many years. Laura received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law with a concentration in Critical Race Studies and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. During law school Laura was a comments editor for the Asian Pacific American Law Journal and managing editor for the UCLA Women’s Law Journal. Laura has worked with many public interest legal organizations including the East Bay Community Law Center, the HIV/AIDS Legal Services Alliance, and the Immigration Center for Women and Children.
Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN
“My interest in women’s health initially began in nursing school in 1993. My feminist labor and delivery professor who was from San Jose, CA asked me a provocative question: Don’t you think it’s odd that we only teach maternity nursing in schools of nursing? I wondered, why are we excluding family planning and abortion from nursing training? From that point forward, I’ve been asking similarly provocative questions about the complexity of women’s lives and existential questions that get to the core of autonomy and dominion of one’s own life.”
Dr. Monica R. McLemore is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Family Health Care Nursing Department and an affiliated clinician-scientist at ANSIRH who maintains a clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital. She also serves as the scientific consultant to the hospital wide shared governance research council. Originally from NJ, she has lived in the SF Bay Area for the last 21 years and recently moved to Oakland.
Lisa Stern, MSN, APRN
“When I was a child, I was obsessed with the movie “Dirty Dancing” and watched it all the time. All but a crucial few minutes, which my parents would always fast-forward through. Like any nosy child, I watched this part the first chance I got. Of course, it was Penny’s abortion. I was really too young to understand what the word abortion meant, but this instilled in me that this was something very taboo… and therefore very interesting.”
Lisa Stern is a nurse practitioner, teacher, and writer based in San Francisco. She currently serves as associate director of research at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and is pursuing a PhD in History of Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Lisa previously served on the executive board of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven and has worked closely with non-profit and advocacy organizations in women’s health, early childhood education, and end-of-life care.
We are grateful for the generous support of the following foundations:
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The Compton Foundation