We wanted to let our community know that we are in the early stages of planning for an executive transition for NNAF in early 2022.
We’re working with Strategies for Social Change (SSC), who oversaw the search that led to Yamani’s hiring in 2015. By the time Yamani steps down, she will have been Executive Director for seven transformative years.
Yamani’s impact on the network over her tenure has been unparalleled and, in many ways, immeasurable. We often say that this is a completely different organization when Yamani entered the role in 2015, when we had a staff of 12 and a different mission and vision.
Yamani’s commitment to NNAF’s ongoing success is evident in the long runway she’s provided for the succession planning process. She plans to stay on board until a new ED is hired in 2022 to ensure a smooth and thorough transition.
Yamani’s vision, tenacity, and values-forward orientation has changed the game for abortion funds and for this movement.
Under her leadership, NNAF:
- Developed a four year strategic plan that formalized and operationalized our commitment to build the capacity of funds, center callers in all elements of our work, grow and mobilize our supporters, and move in lockstep with our members to align around a vision for transforming how people access abortion in this country.
- Created a vision and plan to strengthen the organizing and policy capacity of abortion funds and engage in culture change strategy, leadership development, and political education that sharpens our impact as we work to dismantle barriers to abortion access.
- Built strategies that leverage direct funding work to build collective power for cultural and political change.
- Articulated the Operation Scale Up (OSU) vision as a deepening of our strategy to build strong, healthy member organizations that are equipped to meet the increasingly complex needs of people navigating abortion barriers.
- Grew from a staff of 12 with a $2.3M budget to a staff of 60 with a $15M budget, more than doubling the amount of foundation supporters and nearly quadrupling the number of individual donors.
- Invested in strategic communications that put abortion funds on the map for thousands of donors and supporters that’s lead to growth in abortion funding budgets and number of paid abortion fund staff across the network.
- Seeded and grew equitable resource redistribution strategies, steadily increasing the amount of money we shepherd to fund members. We’re moving over a third of our budget this year to member funds through programs like the Collective Power Fund, Fund-a-thon, the OSU Pilot, and most recently the Abortion Funds Crisis Relief Campaign.
- Prioritized values alignment work with our staff, member funds, board, and design partners to transform the ways that we work, organize, and build together as a network.
Yamani has done decades of work over the last six years. During Yamani’s tenure, NNAF has navigated an anti-abortion cyber attack on the network, the election of an unfit president, escalating legislative and judicial crises, a global pandemic, and the eruption of the largest uprising for racial justice the country has seen in years.
Yet despite these challenges, under Yamani’s leadership, NNAF is thriving. We are healthier than ever financially with strong partnerships in the movement, an aligned Board, staff and network, and a resilient core that’s practiced at weathering change.
Yamani set the bar for this organization and network. The next leader will have to match and exceed that bar because there’s no going back.”
— Katherine McGuiness, Board Co-Chair
With our current strategic plan expiring, and with the mandate of to scale abortion funds providing clear organizational and network direction, now is a great time to make space for new leadership to catalyze our organizational and network-wide readiness to scale. The Board will onboard the next leader to continue the scaling strategy and build off Yamani’s legacy.
We have a deep leadership bench with our Executive Team and Board co-chairs, and Leadership Transition Committee who will work with SSC for the next year to identify and onboard the next executive director.
Debasri will be moving into the role of Managing Director in April and will support staff and funding partners throughout the transition, as well as orient the new ED to the landscape. We have witnessed the power of Debasri’s leadership over the last few years as she has worked to realize the vision to scale abortion funds. We are excited for her steady and inspired hand through this transition.
Katherine McGuiness and Asha Dane’el
NNAF Board Co-Chairs
A note from Yamani:
Dear colleagues and comrades,
I’m writing to let you know that in early 2022 I will step down from my role as Executive Director after seven years. It has been the highest honor of my career to lead the National Network of Abortion Funds. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a spokesperson and strategist for the grassroots organizations that make access to abortion not only legal but accessible. To say I am proud of the team I have built, and the work we’ve done together the last six years would be an understatement. It has not been easy and has come with many lessons I will carry with me for a lifetime. I am confident in our network’s strength, collective power, and clarity of vision moving forward. The system of abortion funding in this country needs fixing, so that patients do not have to crowdfund their healthcare. Momentum and support are growing toward a scaled and streamlined system of abortion funding based in the wisdom and local expertise of abortion funds. I’m ready to pass the baton to the leader who will lead through implementation of this powerful next chapter.
I first learned of an abortion fund in 2006 when I helped a young person connect to the Chicago Abortion Fund. That experience changed my understanding of abortion access and re-oriented my career trajectory toward reproductive justice. In 2014 when I learned of the position opening at NNAF, I was floored to know that CAF was just one of a robust network of nearly 100 funds. To this day, it never ceases to amaze, humble, and inspire me that we rely on a grassroots network of everyday people to get the care we need. It also deeply angers me that the government has failed us this way. I just wanted to be a part of this heroic network and getting to lead within it has been the biggest best thing I’ve done, apart from raising my children.
When I began in April 2015, I was the first Black person to lead the National Network of Abortion Funds in its 27-year history. While representation itself is not enough, it was a step in the direction of a network that lives its values and seeks to match the power of people who call abortion funds with those who answer. I came to NNAF from state leadership looking to be taken more seriously than I felt at the state level. I was also looking for a financially stable organization that I didn’t need to “convince” people was worthy of donating to. Little did I know that after I started at NNAF a number of funders began to tell me that funding abortion was apolitical and “all we did was direct service”. It took at least a year to shift perspectives on the political and cultural power of community care when policy has failed us. I’m proud of the investments that have been made in abortion funds, that a third of our budget passes through to our members, and that NNAF is in a solid financial position. I know that with only 3% of reproductive health/rights and justice funding going to abortion funds, there will only be growth from here.
In 2016 we released a strategic plan that talked about building strong sustainable organizations, mobilizing individuals in a way that went deep and not just wide. We talked about growing the leadership of people volunteering and those who call abortion funds. We said that we must both increase grassroots fundraising to take care of people right now and we launched an agenda that went beyond the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, calling out other systemic barriers and opportunities to abortion access that make our work necessary. We have done so much together. And yet there is more to do.
I’m thrilled to promote Debasri Ghosh from Deputy Director of Development to Managing Director. She will serve as an anchor and bridge through this transition. She was one of my first hires as executive director. She loves this organization and this network and has been the ultimate champion and steward in recruiting people to the vision we have for the work and the organization and the network. She has a long history as a fundraiser, master communicator, capacity builder and activist. She’s the recent chair of an abortion fund board and is rooted in the experience of local funds and callers. Lastly, she is a compassionate team leader which never stops being needed as we navigate the pandemic and all of its impacts.
It’s not goodbye yet, and you can look forward to many love letters to the movement before I go, as I reflect on my leadership journey and lessons learned these last six years.