Updates & News

Changing Network, Changing Leadership

Posted 15 December 2018 12:00 AM by The inroads Team

The International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma was launched by several large organizations and donors (including inroads’ current host organization, Ipas), who saw the problems that stigma created in providing abortion services; in advocating for policy and law change; and in improving, evaluating, and understanding that abortion is a service, a right, and care. Once inroads opened the call for membership, and people from all over the world began joining, the crucial steps that leaders in the field have been taking to call out the problem of abortion stigma became more apparent to us. Our members met the call for community with the energy, zeal, and expertise of people who are working at every level to notice, understand, call out, and end a stigma that has been reducing happiness and health while ending lives and livelihoods for far too long.

The network is made up of the collective work of its members, and as Kati LeTourneau and Katie Gillum began to conceptualize the network agenda and pillars of work, they grew into their roles as “co-conveners” who work closely together in a non-hierarchical way. They were “co-ing,” not just with each other but with the energy of the network to help make inroads.

Luckily for the future of inroads and the future of ending abortion stigma, the network has grown more than five-fold from the early days. The programming has expanded from one round of grant funding, one listserv, one international meeting, one regional meeting, and several webinars a year to multiple, overlapping rounds of funding, travel and technical support programs, multiple topical and regional gatherings and events per year, original research and innovative tools, an active and engaged inroads Collaboration Workspace in multiple languages, and webinars and collaborations throughout the year. As the work of the network has grown and diversified, so has the effort and breadth of tasks needed to convene the network and manage the programming.

Over the past six months, Kati and Katie have been doing internal audits to clarify their roles, reaffirm the strategies of the network, prepare for the hiring of our two new Program and Communications Specialists, and to understand a strategic and governance planning process with the new Steering Committee and crack team of governance consultants. Out of these audits and reflections emerged new roles and new titles that better reflect our work. Kati and Katie asked themselves a series of questions:

What must be done?
What gives me energy?
What drains my energy?
What are the things I can do?

It seems like a simple set of questions, but taking the time to do this with an actual concrete list of the tasks and activities required to make inroads function, seeing where Katie Gillum’s energy is, where Kati LeTourneau’s energy is, and what isn’t covered by both of them, revealed an organic and natural role clarity that was most welcome. Out of this, they also identified the roles for the new inroads programs and communications specialists (take a moment to meet Aditi and Paige!). Working collaboratively, transparently, and mostly as they always have, Kati LeTourneau is now the inroads Research and Operations Director, and Katie Gillum is the inroads Executive Director. For details about their roles and suggestions for who or when to reach out to with a question: check out their bios on the Who Makes inroads page of our website.

As the changes to the network take us all as members to new countries, new programming, and new strategies, this may create big changes in how and where inroads is organized; there may be new programs and transitions from old programs and roles. We will be asking you what you need now but also what the movement needs in the future from inroads. As we enter this time of reflection and change, the staff of the network will continue to help connect you to each other, the tools, and power to do our collective work of ending stigma and discrimination associated with abortion.

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