We want to take a moment to share what NYAAF has been up to over the past year since we began a process of transformation. While we’ve continued our essential work of funding abortions, NYAAF has been quieter this year as we transition to become a smaller, more collectively-run, and women-of-color-led body.
Spurred by a long overdue internal reckoning with our disconnect from caller experience, NYAAF embarked on a transformation period in the spring of last year. While we continued to operate our helpline and fund abortions, we paused on other work — including external communications, recruiting new volunteers or board members, new advocacy campaigns, and hosting events unrelated to the call line.
We used this period as an opportunity to stop cycles of harm by investing in community building, restorative justice, values alignment, strategic planning, organizational restructuring, and the transfer of leadership to existing board members who more closely represent our callers. We approach this work humbly, with a shared commitment to growth. and recognition that there is still so much work to be done to better represent and serve the holistic needs of our callers and their communities, as well as to better be in line with our broader movement of abortion funds and reproductive justice organizers. Through our ongoing strategic planning, we hope to reimagine and rebuild NYAAF.
During this period we completed the following:
- Relationship and trust building – meeting up in person for the first times since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Restorative justice circles.
- Co-authoring a harm response plan.
- Enlisting a strategic planning consultant and initiating a strategic planning process, including a multi-day retreat.
- Restructuring our leadership structure to be more collaborative and building trust as a smaller, multiracial group.
- Changing our funding protocols to become more caller-centric — eliminating unnecessary screening questions and embodying deeper trust in callers.
- Distributing the most funds in our history — more than $720,000 pledged in the past year to around one thousand callers. During this time, we were proud to meet 100% of caller need.
While necessary, this transformation period has not been easy. We have gone from more than 20 active board members to now only 6 — all volunteers, all with day jobs and other commitments. Additional harm has been done as we’ve struggled together to confront how anti-Blackness and abortion stigma show up in our work and the abortion access landscape, and we have had to address that as it has emerged. We know that this work requires ongoing dedication, and we are committed to doing it together.
Further, the state of abortion access across the nation has continued to shift. Caller need has grown as our lines have gotten busier and our pledges have gotten larger. But our relationship-centered work gives us the foundation to nimbly respond to this inflection point for our movement.
Because we have invested in building a stronger organization and building relationships with one another, we are in a stronger position to face the challenges of this moment. Our movement’s strength depends on a foundation of right relationship.
Questions? Feedback? We’re here to be in conversation with you. We hope to share more with you about our transformation work soon, including during our in-person Fund-a-Thon celebration at Cafe Erzulie in Brooklyn on Sunday, May 22. RSVP here. We deeply value this community and look forward to filling the backyard with fellow activists and supporters! Please join and spread the word.
Yours in partnership,The NYAAF Board: Ambika, Chelsea, Julia, Karla, Maddy, Puja