Leadership

Exhale is an organization with leaders at every level, and we have a commitment to supporting experienced leaders while developing new ones. Our leaders’ unique talents and strengths are leveraged to meet organizational goals and needs. A community-led nonprofit, Exhale’s volunteers, staff, and board members work in partnership with the broader Pro-Voice Movement to implement fresh ideas that improve our programs; adapt technology to meet the changing needs of our communities; and take important risks to deepen the impact of the Pro-Voice Movement. 

Volunteers

Exhale’s talkline and online community are staffed by trained volunteers: women and men who who carry the pro-voice mission in their bones. Our volunteers have described being motivated to contribute to Exhale by a personal experience with abortion, the desire to gain counseling experience for a future career, or a personal commitment to put their peaceful values into daily practice.

Exhale's talkline depends on the service of 40 active volunteers

Each volunteers gives about 25 hours to Exhale per month. Here are a few profiles of current volunteers:

Sara Daniel joined Exhale as a talkline counselor in Fall 2012. She is currently working as a researcher at UCSF focusing on access to reproductive health services. “I came to Exhale to step away from the academic and political framework of looking at abortion and ground myself in the experiences of real people. Since joining the Exhale community, I have learned a great deal about myself, the power of listening and story sharing, as well as the importance of building communities of care.”

Sarina Irizarry joined Exhale as a talkline counselor in Spring 2013. She is a Bay Area native and has worked in the nonprofit field serving disadvantaged populations. She is currently in a career transition of becoming a Clinical Nutritionist. Stepping into Exhale was stepping into a community she had longed for. Finally, she felt her experiences were significant and there was a word for it: pro-voice.  “Every time I take a call, it is a new story. Exhale has taught me to listen, and I have continued to practice that in my daily life”. 

Kaeshka Turner Keashka joined Exhale as a talkline counselor in Spring of 2015. She currently works as an attorney for a supportive housing provider serving formerly homeless adults in San Francisco, focusing on eviction prevention and trauma-informed care. “I joined Exhale primarily to discover new approaches to healing and comfort through story-sharing. Working on the talkline over the last year, I've been honored to begin or continue the healing process with callers, and validate the myriad of feelings a woman or man may experience surrounding their abortion experience. I've also been reminded of the strong influence of other factors, such as family, friends, spiritual or religious faith, and trauma history, on how an abortion is experienced and processed. I continue my work with Exhale because of its dedication to being a safe place to land for callers--a kind of port in a storm of politics and judgment--instead choosing to focus on listening, wellness, and building community. ”

Exhale Founder & Executive Director

Aspen Baker is the author of Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight (pending Berrett-Koehler, 2015); and is the Founder and Executive Director of Exhale. Ms. Baker has received numerous awards, been featured regularly in the media and she often writes for sites like the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Huffington Post.  

Aspen was a finalist for the 2014 American Express Ngen Leadership Awards, was named a “fun, fearless female” by Cosmopolitan in 2013; awarded with the Gerbode Professional Development Fellowship in 2012; was named a "Local Hero" in 2009 by San Francisco's KQED during Women's History Month; and "Young Executive Director of the Year" in 2005 by the Bay Area's Young Non-Profit Professional Network.  As a spokesperson for Exhale, Aspen has been featured by media outlets across the country, including CNN Headline News, Fox National News, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times, National Public Radio, and many more. Her essay “My Abortion Brought Us Together” was featured in the anthology Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection. Aspen served on the City of Oakland's Public Ethics Commission 2011-2014 and you can find her on Twitter: @aspenbaker.

 

Director of National Programs

Mara Kassoff is thrilled to have joined the Exhale team, where she is applying her direct experience using stories to open difficult conversations to this important field. With her passion for creating safe space for dialogue combined with her deep belief that social change is possible through sharing authentic, personal narratives, Mara is committed to the provision of much needed services that support the healing of women and men after their abortion experiences. Mara has an MBA from the American Jewish University and over 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. A former COO, Mara is also a skilled facilitator and informal educator, having taught workshops and trainings on topic areas such as organizational development, budgeting, program design, and youth empowerment models. Her previous employers include Jewish LearningWorks, Jewish Vocational Services, The American Jewish University, and United Synagogue Youth. She is an advisor to and has served on the board of directors of About-Face, an organization that promotes body positivity and equips girls and women with tools for combatting harmful media messages.

Board of Directors

Exhale’s Board Members are leaders whose volunteer service to Exhale is critical to engaging more people and communities in the Pro-Voice Movement. Board members are role models for pro-voice values and practices in every facet of their personal and professional lives; and as organizational culture carriers, they put our strength-based approach to decision-making into regular practice. Strategic, experienced, and always learning and adapting through experience, Exhale Board Members spread the pro-voice message through their networks and communities as ambassadors, fundraisers, and leaders.

Sabrina Hersi Issa, Washington, DC, PRESIDENT

Sabrina Hersi Issa is the CEO at Be Bold Media, a digital media agency focused on global advocacy and the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to developing sustainable solutions to hunger, food security and humanitarian assistance. She was the 2015 Event Chair of Web of Change at the Esalen Institute. Previously, Sabrina was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute where she worked on issues related to technology, human rights and humanitarian disasters. She has worked for Afghans for Civil Society, Oxfam America, NBC News and National Public Radio stations. Sabrina also organizes Rights x Tech, a gathering for technologists and activists and runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualized violence. Sabrina was named one of Forbes Magazine Top 30 under 30, EBONY Magazine Power 100 Honoree and Washingtonian Magazine named her a Woman to Watch as part of it’s annual Most Powerful Women issue. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and also serves on the board of directors of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Project on Middle East Democracy. She volunteers as a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line.

Genevieve Brennan, San Francisco, CA, VICE PRESIDENT

Genevieve Brennan is a digital publishing professional who manages media partnerships at Google. She helped launch Google Books, Google eBooks (now Books on Play), and Google Play Newsstand, where she now works to ensure that stories from major publishers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and NPR reach a bigger audience every day. Whether it's a book, an article, or a blog post, she wants to read it, and she wants you to have access to it too. A graduate of Wellesley College, Genevieve is a strong supporter of women's rights around the world, and believes that storytelling is one of the most important parts of the human experience.

Susan Chorley, Boston, MA, SECRETARY

Rev. Susan Chorley is an ordained American Baptist minister who has served in congregations in Durham, NC, San Francisco, and Beverly, Massachusetts.  She is currently the Associate Director and Minister of Programs for the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry in Roxbury, MA. She is a co-founder and board member of Exhale. In Boston, Susan is a founding member of the MA Restorative Justice Collaborative and founder of “Partners in Faith” a roundtable for individuals, organizations and congregations who are engaged in faith based organizing around intimate partner violence. Susan and her 14 year old son live in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Nicole Castillo, Boston, MA, TREASURER

Nicole Castillo is the Domestic & Sexual Violence Program Coordinator at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. She is also a co-founder and the National Advisor to Millennial Issues at BeVisible Latina, the first social networking and career-building site for Latinas by Latinas. She is an author and content-producer with a passion for Latinx leadership and empowerment, and her articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, LatinasRepresent, Boston Latino Magazine, Project Enye, Latino Rebels, Medium, and Latina Lista. You can hear some of her insights on politics and feminism from her interviews on NPR and Vivala. Nicole is deeply committed to social justice and cultivating the leadership of women of color in their homes, communities, and politics, and trains area-wide professionals on range of topics from LGBTQ issues, using Social Media for Social Change, and trauma-informed care. Find this #LatinaMillennial tweeting it up on technology, social innovations, and leadership at @niccastillo1017.

Laurenellen McCann, Washington, DC

Laurenellen McCann is a prominent social theorist, educator, and organizer known internationally for her work advancing community leadership in democratic reform and innovation. In 2014, she started the movement to bring community organizing practices into civic technology under the banner, “build with, not for”. Currently, Laurenellen serves as the director of New America DC, a collaborative research program exploring whether and how national organizations can support existing civic activity. Previously, she was a Civic Innovation Fellow at the Open Technology Institute, a consultant with the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a crackerjack NPR reporter, and the founding director of the Sunlight Foundation’s state and local team, where she co-authored Sunlight’s open data guidance and helped dozens of states and cities write their first open data policies. She also directed TransparencyCamp, one of the largest grassroots events for government accountability in the world. Find out more at laurenellen.com and @elle_mccann.

Ronak Davé Okoye, San Francisco, CA

Ronak is an urban policy and community development professional with a passion for enabling equitable, healthy, and sustainable cities. She has held positions in the City of Boston Mayor’s Office, and consults for several other public offices and community based organizations in Greater Boston. Ronak’s focus is bolstered by her dual master’s degree in Urban Environmental Policy and Planning (M.A.), and Food Policy and Applied Nutrition (M.S.) from Tufts University, where she investigated the intersections of health outcomes within the built environment, community development, and sociopolitical inequities. In 2011 her project team was awarded the American Planning Association Student Project of the Year for the development of the Dorchester Coast Greenway Master Plan. In 2012 she was the recipient of the Robert P. Guertin Student Leadership Award from the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering for her academic achievement and leadership of the Intercultural Practice Group and Food Justice Coalition, challenging students and faculty to discuss race & culture in the fields of policy and planning. Prior to graduate school, Ronak worked as a software product manager where she translated visions into strategy through product design. Ronak served as an Exhale talk line counselor from 2008-2010 and worked on various strategic projects as a volunteer for the organization, including the implementation of Exhale’s first online community. Most recently, Ronak was a 2012 Provoice Fellow and traveled the nation engaging audiences on college campuses, churches, and community centers as a personal story sharer and provoice facilitator. Twitter: @Ronakisprovoice

Thaler Pekar, New York, NY

Thaler Pekar is the CEO of Thaler Pekar & Partners, and an internationally recognized pioneer in narrative and communication. Thaler guides smart leaders in finding, developing, and sharing stories that break through an increasingly complex marketplace and rally critical support. Her Heart, Head & Hand™ framework for persuasive communication is directing entrepreneurs and advocates throughout the world in increasing sales, visibility, income, and influence. Thaler facilitated the opening plenary of the most recent Smithsonian Institution Conference on Organizational Storytelling. She often lectures at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Columbia University Graduate Program in Strategic Communications, and she is a contributor to the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Thaler is a long-time resident of Hoboken, NJ, and a more recent resident of Unadilla, NY. She always crosses the street to walk on the sunny side, and she has a cat named Truthiness. You can read more about Thaler and her work at http://thalerpekar.com/

Sally Steenland, Washington, DC

Sally Steenland is a writer and consultant whose work focuses on women, work and family; reproductive justice; religious liberty; and the influence of religion on politics and culture. For 11 years she directed the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Policy, where she led national and state-based work on religious liberty, reproductive justice, economic inequality, anti-Muslim bigotry and more. While at CAP, Sally created the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, wrote a weekly column, Faith in Values, and served as a national spokesperson on issues of faith, values and culture. Before working at CAP, Sally was a frequent op-ed columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she wrote a syndicated column on critical social issues. She spent a decade at the National Commission on Working Women and Wider Opportunities for Women, where her work focused on women in nonprofessional jobs and the image and employment of women in the media.

Special Advisors

Patricia Foley, Bookkeeper

Patricia Foley has been Exhale's consultant bookkeeper since 2004.  She is a full charge bookkeeper for nonprofits.  She is also an enrolled agent,  admitted to practice in 1983, to prepare tax. She specializes in nonprofit tax, which believe it or not she enjoys immensely.

 
Lisa Hoffman, Nonprofit Consultant

Lisa is a nonprofit consultant and coach with more than 25 years of experience in fund development, facilitation, training, and board and staff development.  Specializing in individual giving, with an emphasis on major gifts, her pragmatic approach is creative, and always involves a little mischief.  Lisa is also an ordained Zen priest, bringing Buddhist practices of compassion, active engagement, and leaving the ego at the door to her nonprofit consulting.

Nancy Latham, Chief Learning Officer at LFA Group

Nancy directs evaluations in a wide variety of subject areas, including policy advocacy, housing and community development, college readiness, community college programs for older adults, and media. Nancy is passionate about using her research skills to support organizations working for social and cultural change.


Deb Levine, Advisor

Deb is a renowned leader in using technology for sexual and reproductive health. She has become a mentor and advisor for several startups and organizations including the FastForward non-profit incubator, Health 2.0 Traction, RWJF, and Exhale. She lives in Oakland with her husband and two teens, and has very thick skin.

 

Camille Ramani, Founder and Principal Consultant, Ramani Consulting

Camille is an independent consultant committed to social justice with an expertise in "getting things done"!  She specializes in helping organizations improve operational efficiencies and improving organizational capacity, specifically in technology management and strategy, workflow processes, and project management.  She grew up in India and the Bay Area, is an avid surfer, and loves independent films.

Rich Snowdon, Coach

Rich is the author of NonprofitHearts, has coached nonprofit leaders since 1999, and was the co-founder of the Child Assault Prevention Training Center of California. He says, "Exhale fills my heart with exclamation points!"

 

Amy Hill, MA; Silence Speaks Director, Center for Digital Storytelling

  Amy is a digital storytelling instructor, documentary filmmaker, and public health/community development consultant. After spending twelve years coordinating women’s health and violence prevention projects throughout California, she founded Silence Speaks, an international digital storytelling initiative that blends oral history, participatory mediamaking, and popular education to support the telling and public sharing of life stories that document injustice and promote gender equality and human rights.

Eveline Shen, MPH; Executive Director, Forward Together

 Eveline has led Forward Together since 1999. Under her leadership, ACRJ has become widely recognized for its innovative leadership in the Reproductive Justice Movement. Eveline serves on the board of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project and Movement Strategy Center. She was recently named by Women’s eNews as one of the 21 leaders for the 21st Century.

Exhale is a 501(c)3 organization (EIN/tax ID: 94-3393719)