September is Abortion Access Month, and Women Have Options has big changes to share. Our inspiring board chair, Nancy Pitts, is stepping down. We’re reflecting on how much we’ve grown since she began the position in October 2009, and on what directions we will take in the future as we work to give the women of Ohio the choices they deserve.
We have so much to celebrate: under Nancy’s leadership, Women Have Options has raised more funds than ever before, won an award for our advocacy work, expanded our board (including recruiting me), and celebrated our 20th anniversary as one of the founding members of the National Network of Abortion Funds. But as our founder said, we wish we hadn’t needed to be here for two decades. Because the Hyde Amendment still takes away low-income women’s right to choose abortion, and because Ohio legislators continue to create conditions in which women have to travel farther and risk more resources to access reproductive health care, we still have much more work to do. We’re excited for our new leadership to face these challenges, and we’re grateful to Nancy for ensuring we’re stronger than ever.
In honor of the occasion, I asked Nancy to reflect on the last four years of her leadership of our all-volunteer organization.
Nancy, how did you hear about Women Have Options and why did you become involved?
I was interested in getting connected with the reproductive rights community when I learned about Women Have Options. Over coffee, the group’s founder shared the history of the organization as well as the current need for a new generation of leadership to keep the group going. She told me about her illegal abortion in 1969. I told her about my legal abortion in 1996. I had never heard of an abortion fund before, but clearly the organization captured my imagination. In addition to the mission, I was intrigued by this small group of women who were fascinating and so committed to this cause.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your time as board chair of WHO/O?
My deepest satisfaction has come from the evolution of WHO/O into a stronger, dynamic organization.
If I had to think of individual moments, I think of our events when we bring together an amazing group of people with a powerful, giving, loving vibe. A couple years ago, a vendor who poured wine at one of our events said that we had gathered the most delightful group of people she had ever seen in Columbus. Earlier this year, an ally at Planned Parenthood remarked that our bowl-a-thon feels less like a Women Have Options event and more like a movement event.
Who or what has inspired you in your work with WHO/O?
Without a doubt: the women who serve on WHO/O’s board of directors. They inspire me every day. They have brought me a community of passionate, brilliant activists and have challenged me to become a better person.
Thank you, Emily, Jane, Andrea, Adrienne, Olivera, Linda, Chloe, Molly, Jen, Angie, Deepa, Molly, Mallory, Birgit, Tera, Jillian, and Harmony. [Ed.: You’re welcome, Nancy!]
What three words would you use to describe the people who give funds to support abortion access in Ohio?
Compassionate. Radical. Powerful.
What will you be doing next?
I’m looking forward to my new position as director of development and communications at Preterm in Cleveland, where I will continue to raise money for abortion access. I plan to remain on the WHO/O board for the immediate future. Women Have Options has been the most transformative experience of my life, and I am so proud of the organization we have become.