I completed my BA in Social Work at Vassar College and immediately accepted a position with Planned Parenthood of Pittsburgh. My initial responsibilities were in office management, although I quickly advanced to an administrative role as program director and clinical coordinator. I devoted every spare moment to promoting our programs and services in the community. We offered complete women’s health services, including reduced-price gynecological exams, pregnancy testing, birth control counseling and programs to prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases. I also personally championed a sexual education curriculum that promoted contraception, AIDS awareness and sexual abuse prevention. For many years our services were heralded in the community and our attorney served in strictly an advisory capacity. Things would soon change.
In the late 1990’s, the political tide shifted regarding women’s rights and we frequently found ourselves the target of right-wing attacks. For many years we were the only facility in Beaver County that provided first trimester pregnancy terminations. The local Republican party and their many Christian supporters resented our commitment to performing services that they personally opposed. Religious protestors began picketing the clinic, accosting our patients with religious propaganda and threatening their lives. They blocked all the entrances to our building, making it difficult for patients to enter and exit. We received bomb threats and had our windows broken by demonstrators. This was my first experience with women’s rights being violated and I felt compelled to take a stand.
I volunteered for a Democratic congressional campaign, where I briefed the candidate on abortion rights and sexuality issues in health care reform. I used my visible position in Planned Parenthood to lobby at the state level against parental notification laws for minors who received abortions. I coordinated grassroots lobbying efforts on pending legislation that would make violent acts committed by the clinic’s protestors part of the proposed “hate crime” bill. I also worked as an advocate for the legalization of the abortion pill RU-486.
In 1998, I served as manager of Senator Harry Jones’ re-election campaign, supporting his liberal policies on women’s health care and civil rights. The position provided me with greater professional responsibility than I had at Planned Parenthood, as I managed hundreds of volunteers, designed ad campaigns and conducted fundraisers. After the Senator’s re-election, I assumed the presidency of the newly created Pennsylvania Women’s Health Advocacy Group in Harrisburg. We employ a lobbyist and coordinate grassroots strategy programs to promote women’s health issues on the state level. In my current position, I research legislation, design lobbying strategies and serve as liason with affiliated organizations throughout the state regarding pending policies and bills.
I’ve derived tremendous personal satisfaction from my professional career in revamping reproductive health policy and health care reform on the state level. Yet I yearn to obtain formal business training to make a greater contribution. An MBA will provide the technical skills and professional influence to better contront right-wing legislation and initiatives. It will also improve my ability to design and advocate original social policies that benefit women’s rights. After business school, I hope to continue working for women’s advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Women’s rights were hard-won in this country in the 1960’s and I am committed to ensuring their survival for future generations of talented American women.
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