A Message from Loretta Ross
A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND TRANSITION FROM SISTERSONG NATIONAL COORDINATOR, LORETTA ROSS
Dear SisterSong Members:
Thank you for your support of SisterSong over the years as we have worked as a collective for reproductive justice (RJ) for all women of color and Indigenous women.
I am writing this email to notify you that as of December 31, 2012, I will be stepping down as National Coordinator for SisterSong. As you may know, I renewed my contract with SisterSong for a three-year term in 2010, and that ends in December 2012 and I will not be seeking renewal after seven years as National Coordinator. While I am pleased to be moving to new adventures at the end of next year, the Management Circle and Staff of SisterSong remain committed to our continuing work of building a movement of women of color for reproductive justice and human rights.
In 2004, I was hired by the SisterSong Management Circle to establish a national office and create national visibility for SisterSong. If you have been a member for a long time, you may recall that we had no staff, no budget, and very little infrastructure beyond the Management Circle in 2004. After organizing our first national conference in 2003 that debuted the Reproductive Justice framework, we believed that for SisterSong to continue to have its greatest impact and be true to the 600 women who attended our conference, we needed a headquarters that would be a national site for feminists of color organizing on reproductive justice issues. Our collective task was to transform a volunteer-run SisterSong into a long-term functioning organization, and have a strong impact on the building of a national movement for reproductive justice.
In seven years, we have achieved these goals. During this time, we have increased our annual budget from $0 to over $1 million. We have hired staff and we purchased the Mother House along with SisterLove, providing a stable office and organizing center for women of color nationally. We have reached more than 100,000 people with our RJ trainings and presentations. We have completed two national strategic plans to help direct our strategic impact and direction. We have strengthened the Management Circle with long-term work on our Governance and Fiduciary responsibilities including obtaining our own 501(c)(3) status, and we have added new leadership to the Management Circle, so that 2/3 of the Board is now composed of women who are not original founders of SisterSong.
Most importantly, we have transformed the landscape of the entire movement for reproductive justice through our conceptualization and promotion of the RJ framework, compelling the pro-choice movement to embrace our radical and visionary framework, and to recognize the leadership and contributions of Indigenous women and women of color. We have mentored and encouraged emerging women of color organizations, and have supported their growth and development as strong leaders in the RJ movement.
We have fought important policy battles on behalf of the women we have the privilege to represent, and we have built a large membership base capable of being mobilized to advocate on behalf of women of color all over the country. We have organized the largest gatherings of Indigenous women and women of color ever in the history of this country to share critical information and skills. We have helped spread the importance of Self-Help throughout the movement, and we have touched every corner of the country with our conviction that women of color must lead the movement for human rights and reproductive justice in order to save our lives, our families, and our communities.
As part of this transition, SisterSong will focus on several major goals in 2012:
1) Working with our local activists in regional conferences and gatherings as was requested on the majority of the evaluations from last summer's Let's Talk About Sex! Conference. Many of you want to connect with RJ activists in your region and SisterSong will use our resources to help make this happen.
2) Leadership by the Management Circle to successfully develop a clear transition process and procedures to grow the management capabilities of current and new SisterSong staff to fulfill our mission.
3) Strategic planning for the 3rd phase of our growth, helping the organization to develop its organizational and programmatic focus for the next three years that will include evaluation of our programmatic impact, and restructuring to ensure that we have the staff and the resources to best address our new focus.
I will be turning over many of my key responsibilities to senior staff and the Management Circle during 2012. This is in order to provide the SisterSong family with an opportunity to work with new leadership as well as take advantage of my experience as we make this transition.
Again, thank you for your continued support. While this is a tremendous moment for me and SisterSong, I hope you join me in working towards the best for our movement of women of color. Our job will not be done until every woman of color has her human rights respected and protected.
Let us give thanks this season for our ability to organize our voices and represent ourselves and our communities collectively.
Your sister and friend,