In 2016 , when I started as an IfWhenHow Reproductive Justice & HIV fellow, I was a recent graduate from law school, wife, and mother to a busy toddler and four month old. Prior to my entry into the fellowship program, I had navigated trauma and discrimination as a young black mother in an institution that was not equipped or designed for my full participation and inclusion. The anxiety that rested on me as an emerging lawyer and person fervently in search of a place to empower and uplift the many folks in my community searching for their voice and reclaiming power led me to SisterLove. I was determined to secure a position with the organization--so much so that I interviewed for the position less than 48 hours after giving birth to my second child. When I arrived at SisterLove, I was in awe of their herstory, the strength of the interpersonal relationships between an intergenerational team of Black women, and the opportunity to show the world how powerful our stories are. From day one, I sought to build upon the work of the many Black women and queer folk that came before me.
Today, SisterLove’s programs are strong and vibrant. During my tenure, I diversified our staff by increasing the hiring of young people, multilingual staff and people of diverse knowledge and experiences. I deepened our internal commitment to healing justice and language justice in our work. Our Community Research program obtained funding to lead a reproductive justice informed research study dedicated to exploring the perspectives, knowledge, and experiences of Black and Latina women with medication abortion. Our Health Education and Prevention program digitized our client records management system to increase our capacity to facilitate linkage to care for our clients, no matter where they are located. Our Policy and Advocacy program has created new partnerships and strengthened existing relationships to defend access to sexual and reproductive health services at the state, national, and international levels. These achievements are reflective of our team’s capacity and commitment to our community and the movement for liberation and reproductive justice.
It is with mixed emotion that I share that, after four years with SisterLove, I will be transitioning from the organization. This is the moment to pass the baton. To allow for continued excellence, new ideas, and the growth of new leadership. So, I end this letter asking you to support this incredible organization and the amazing people who will be carrying on this work. I will be watching the next phase of SisterLove with enormous admiration and excitement.
Thank you to all who have collaborated with me, helped me to grow, and taught me something new. Most of all, thank you to those who will continue to move our work forward in the fight to achieve reproductive justice for all. I am still here with you. I will continue to inspire, to love, and to grow with you. My personal email is email@example.com for those that want to keep in touch.
Yours en la lucha,
Sequoia Ayala, Esq., MA