Last weekend, Women Have Options attended the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) National Organizing Summit in Chicago.
This annual conference is a chance for abortion fund activists from around the country—and a few from outside the country too—to gather and share ideas, resources, and camaraderie. I was lucky enough to be selected to participate as a member of the Building the Movement Leadership Program, an initiative specifically meant to help young women and women of color become leaders in the reproductive justice movement. This was my first visit to the summit, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a great experience!
I started my weekend (along with 10 other abortion fund members from around the country) at a day- long workshop for Building the Movement participants. We spent our first day talking with leadership at NNAF and learning about how they became involved with abortion funding. It was a great opportunity to ask questions and learn from experienced activists. I got to meet other young women who care about reproductive justice and share ideas and experiences with them. It was a great way to kick off the conference, and helped us have a great dialogue about how young women can be effective advocates for our abortion funds.
The conference provided a number of excellent workshops. For me, one of the most valuable workshops was a 4-hour advanced fundraising session—training I really needed, believe me. In addition to the formal workshops, there was also just a fantastic wealth of non-profit know-how and ingenuity among the attendees. People weren’t just at the summit to catch up and have fun, but to help each other do the important work that they do. It seemed like every time I sat down with someone new, I learned about a great new resource or an awesome program or idea that was happening at someone else’s fund. I learned more about the nuts and bolts of how funds succeed over the weekend then I ever have before. Having the opportunity to learn and share resources and ideas with so many likeminded people was awesome. I’m really excited to bring some new ideas and skills to my work with WHO/O.
That isn’t to say we didn’t have fun, too. The opportunity to relax and hang out with abortion fund members and supporters doesn’t happen every day—the vast majority of us are volunteers, and when we’re hanging out, we’re usually working to make our programming successful. The NNAF summit provided us all with plenty of opportunities to meet new friends and enjoy ourselves too. The highlight was definitely the talent show. Everyone brought something special to the table, from tap-dancing to singing to stand-up comedy. Well, not everyone—WHO/O sat that one out. Maybe next year?
We did get our moment in the spotlight though: Women Have Options is the proud recipient of this year’s NNAF award for Most Impressive Advocacy for all of the work we’ve done in Ohio to rally women around reproductive justice. People who follow our Facebook page and this blog know we have some real advocacy rockstars here in Ohio, and we’re honored to share this award with all of you. We are truly grateful to have been recognized, and we’ll take this as a charge to do even better next year!
Overall, it was an awesome experience. I came home feeling energized and positive about the work we do, and really proud to be contributing to the amazing things that WHO/O accomplishes in my community every year. I am so thankful to everyone at NNAF for giving me the opportunity to attend. I’m already looking forward to next year!