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Board of Directors

Lani Blechman

Lani, hails from Miami and lives in Northampton where she thinks about dealing with class privilege and oppression, global feminisms, queer dance parties, dismantling racism, and heat and humidity. She is known for a mean abortion values exploration workshop entitled "Rhymes with schmashmortion...Can you say it?" (Well, it's actually very probing, open, and thoughtful as it draws a lot from an intergroup dialogue-based workshop model.) Most days she can be found at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) where she works as Operations Assistant. Her past roles at CLPP have included Student Conference Coordinator of the 20th and 21st annual Reproductive Justice Conference, "From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom" in 2006 and 2007. Lani's other current hats include collective member/trainer/finance chair for Translate Gender, childcare giver/fundraising committee volunteer for the Prison Birth Project, and front-page blogger for Amplify where she is known as love-and-organizing. While much of her current work focuses on operationalizing justice-based values through organizational policies and procedures, she is also particularly proud of coordinating the 2008 Franklin County Community Coalition for Teens conference, "Spark Thought, Create Change!" and other local youth work. Lani hates bananas, but enjoys bike riding, fresh vegetables, road trips, hand-me-downs, and thunderstorms. In 2008, Lani finished her thesis (an oral-history based analysis of The Doula Project and Translate Gender) and graduated from Hampshire College. She is also a member of the PEP Young Women's Leadership Council.

Carlos Bernal

Carlos is currently the Controller of Instant Care, LLC, a surgical center in Chicago, IL. He comes to this position with over 16 years of experience in the fields of accounting and financial management. Additionally, Mr. Bernal has an education in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Bachelors Degree in Business Accounting from the University of Phoenix, and a Masters Degree in Accounting and Financial Management from the Keller Graduate School of Management. Carlos has worked professionally in the area of non-profit accounting for several years and has approximately 20 years of volunteer non-profit experience with several organizations, including the Alpha Psi Lambda - National, Inc., the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations and the Continental Community Center. Additionally, Mr. Bernal has extensive accounting experience in the healthcare, gaming, and software industries.

Jennifer Heitel Yakush

Jennifer Heitel Yakush is Assistant Director for Public Policy at SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the Untied States, a national non-profit organization that advocates for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services. In this capacity, Jen concentrates her efforts on public policy and advocacy in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights at the federal level by conducting policy maker education in the United States Congress and the Executive Branch.

Previously, Jen served as Senior Associate for Communications at Catholics for Choice, where she implemented CFC's communications strategy to educate the public about reproductive health and rights, separation of church and state and other relevant issues, with particular emphasis on media relations and campaign promotion. She has also served as State Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Youth, where she focused on championing efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Jen sits on the Board of Directors of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) and is a member of the National Advisory Council for Sexual Health convened by former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. She also serves as a clinic escort with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF). Jen holds a B.A. in International Affairs and a concentration in International Women's Studies from George Washington University.

Aparna Shah

Aparna has worked for social justice, youth organizing and youth development with immigrant communities and communities of color for over 15 years as a teacher, trainer, program director, and board member. She was born in Manila and spent her early years in Mumbai, and found home in the Bay Area at age 6. Since 2003, she has worked at Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) to build power and resources to advance the self-determination of women and people of color. Previously, Aparna spent several years at the Beacon Center in San Francisco's Mission District, building community and working to transform a public middle school into a vibrant youth and family center. She has served on the Leadership Council of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition as well as the Board of Directors of Youth Together, and is a 2002 Fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute. Aparna holds a Master's degree in mental health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and most importantly, is the proud mama of budding reproductive justice organizer baby Coyo!

James Wagoner

James assumed the helm of Advocates for Youth, a leading national organization on adolescent reproductive and sexual health, in September 1997. A respected public policy and reproductive health expert, Mr. Wagoner previously served as executive vice president of NARAL, Pro Choice America directing the organization's communications, policy, and public education campaigns. Prior to that, Mr. Wagoner served as chief of staff to Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-OH), as well as the Senator's special assistant on aging and legislative assistant to two key Senate panels: the Budget Committee (1983-1986) and the Labor and Human Resources Committee (1986-1988). Mr. Wagoner is now putting his reproductive health experience to work for teenagers in the United States and abroad. He is spearheading a national "Rights, Respect, Responsibility" campaign at Advocates for Youth aimed at shifting the social paradigm of adolescent sexual health to one that views sexuality as normal and healthy and young people as partners in prevention.

An avid baseball fan, Mr. Wagoner graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and worked for a time during the late 1970s for a member of the Irish parliament. He is married, has four boys, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

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