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.
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:
Lu Wah Hung joined Exhale as a talkline counselor in Fall 2013. She came to the United States in 2006 as a first generation immigrant and currently works as a research assistant at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute. Starting with an idea of exploring abortion as a "strange topic", Lu Wah came to Exhale and became part of it. "While learning how to listen to people's voice, I learn how to listen to mine and be true to myself. Everytime I talk to a caller on the line I share my life moment with someone. I feel that connections between people can be so powerful and alive."
Jill Eversole joined Exhale as a talkline counselor in 2013 and became part of the National Engagement Squad in 2014. She is currently a graduate student in Public Health at UC Berkeley, where she focuses on adolescent sexual health and sexuality education. "I came to Exhale because of my passion for reproductive health, but discovered the power of listening and connecting through stories. It is refreshing to put down the political boxing gloves and listen with my heart."
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”.
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.”
Exhale’s programs and strategies are orchestrated by a small team of staff members, who depend on the leadership of volunteers and board members; the thought-partnership of colleagues and allies; and the expertise of a dynamic team of consultants in order to achieve our ambitious goals and objectives.
Aspen Baker, 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.
Danielle Thomas, Senior Manager, National Programs
Danielle came to Exhale with the hope of thinking and talking about abortion in a different way. In 2006 she started working in a Texas abortion clinic; it was here that her passion for counseling, supporting, and advocating for women was cemented. In 2008 Danielle joined Exhale as a volunteer talkline counselor. Soon after becoming a counselor she realized the tremendous impact of Exhale, and became more involved in the organization playing significant roles in fundraising campaigns and the private online community. Danielle was also on the Transition Team of volunteers that managed the talkline during a major staff and financial transition in 2010. Previous to joining Exhale as a staff member, Danielle was a Program Coordinator at United Way of the Bay Area focusing on family financial stability. She was part of the planning, implementation and replication of SparkPoint, a program that helps Bay Area families reach financial stability by addressing education goals, workforce development, and financial needs. Danielle sees Exhale’s counseling model and the pro-voice framework as transformative forces in her own life and she loves being able to share them with others.
Heather Buchheim, Senior Manager, National Engagement
Heather has been helping organizations better articulate their missions and raise money online since 2006. At M+R and Watershed, she led strategy and wrote for groups like The Nation, The Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, The National Sexuality Resource Center and CREDO Action, helping them build their bases through online recruitment campaigns and integrated fundraising programs that meet constituents wherever they are. A gifted and versatile writer, Heather's specialty is storytelling to inspire action. Prior to her consulting work, she supervised projects on civil liberties and technology for the Consumer Federation of California. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Global Studies from UC Santa Barbara, where she caught the journalism and communications bug as Associate News Director for KCSB-FM. In her spare time, you can find Heather biking, celloing, dog-walking, yogaing and backpacking, and she likes to write when she’s not at work too—sometimes for blogs and magazines like Feministing and BUST.
Katie Silbiger, Program and Administrative Coordinator
Katie was initially drawn to Exhale as a place to practice her counseling skills around women’s health and wellbeing. Since becoming a talkline counselor in 2012, she’s been continually inspired by Exhale’s mission to move the culture forward around stigmatized issues through pro-voice storysharing. Katie expanded her involvement with Exhale through a summer internship and joined the team in 2014. As the Program and Administrative Coordinator, she is excited to improve the internal processes of the organization to prepare Exhale for more great things in the future. Before joining Exhale, Katie spent her time teaching and providing administrative support and management to other Bay Area nonprofits. She graduated cum laude from Carleton College with a BA in Psychology and hopes to pursue her PsyD in the Bay Area.
Sharon Lacay, Program Assistant
Sharon joined Exhale in 2012 as a talkline counselor. Trained as a clinical social worker who focused on trauma and health outcomes, she has always felt drawn to hearing people’s truth and meeting them where they are, which is why pro-voice has resonated with her so deeply. In her years with Exhale she has participated as a talkline volunteer, written for our Blog on how pro-voice breeds resilience, graced the cover of our Pro-Voice Counseling Guide, and received the 2013 Rachel Falls Compassion Award. Sharon’s dedication to the pro-voice movement comes from her belief that pro-voice enriches the world through acceptance and a willingness to learn about each other. As the Program Assistant her goals are to improve the talkline caller experience and support the volunteer counselors on the front lines so that they can be their full selves and feel good about their valuable work. Prior to and during her time as a volunteer Sharon worked for several non-profits in New York and the Bay Area providing crisis counseling and education to at risk families and victims of crime. Through her work she realized her passion for helping helpers and would like to dedicate the next chapter in her career to mentoring helping professionals so that they can embrace and realize their strengths.
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 is the CEO at Be Bold Media, a digital media agency focused on global advocacy and the curator of Storybold. She is also the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to seeking sustainable solutions to global hunger launched in response to the famine in the Horn of Africa. Previously, she was a Program Adviser at Afghans for Civil Society, an NGO that developed women’s programs and independent media in southern Afghanistan, worked for National Public Radio and Oxfam America. She has advised women legislators on digital civic engagement and social media and created the Human Rights Roundtable, a monthly gathering for activists and technologists. Forbes named her ’30 Under 30′ for Law and Policy and Washingtonian Magazine featured her as a Woman to Watch. She is a graduate of Ohio State University where she studied International Relations & Diplomacy, Political Science and Women Studies.
Ronak Davé Okoye, San Francisco, CA, VICE PRESIDENT
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
Lela Djakovic, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, TREASURER
Lela is the founder of EQED, a consulting firm that helps leaders, teams and organizations expand their capacity for managing critical relationships, influence change and achieve desired strategic and cultural outcomes. She co-founded three other ventures including a fund of hedge funds, a banking software company and a natural cosmetics brand. She facilitates the popular elective Interpersonal Dynamics (aka Touchy Feely) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Women’s Circles for their Women in Management Program. Lela spent 7 years in finance, including trading commodities and credit at Goldman Sachs in London. She received her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Durham, England.
Susan Chorley, Boston, Massachusetts, SECRETARY
Since 2005 Reverend Susan Chorley (B.A. Wake Forest University 1994, M.Div/M.A. in Feminist Theology American Baptist Seminary of the West/Graduate Theological Union, 2002) has served as the Director of Renewal House, a domestic violence shelter in Roxbury, Massachusetts and a program of the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry. Susan is an ordained American Baptist minister and served in congregations in Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA and Beverly, MA. Susan has been active in the work of reproductive justice from writing her Master’s Thesis on a theological approach to offering pastoral care to those who have chosen abortion, serving on the Board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in MA and as a co-founder of Exhale. Susan is currently on the C4 Board of PPLM in Massachusetts. In Boston, Susan is a founding member of the MA Restorative Justice Collaborative and founder of “Partners in Faith” a quarterly roundtable for individuals, organizations and congregations who are engaged in faith based organizing around intimate partner violence. Susan and her 11 year old son live in Jamaica Plain, MA.
Wen-Hua Yang, New York, New York
Born in Taiwan, and raised in Syracuse, NY, Wen-Hua has diligently served human rights organisations for over ten years. As the Deputy Director of Operations at Avaaz, Wen-Hua is part of a team that oversees the financial and administrative functions of the organization. Wen-Hua has worked and volunteered for various social justice organizations, including stints at Human Rights Watch, UNESCO, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, and the New York Asian Women’s Center. Wen-Hua received her Master’s in Public Administration from New York University, and a B.A. in Asian Studies and Religion from Mount Holyoke College.
Team of Experts
Cheryl Contee, Partner at Fission Strategy
Cheryl specializes in helping non-profit organizations and foundations use social media to create social good. She is also the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics writing as “Jill Tubman” on one of the top black blogs online. Cheryl is included in The Root 100 list of established and emerging African-American leaders. Huffington Post listed her as one of the Top 27 Female Founders in Tech to Follow on Twitter in 2011. Fast Company named her one of their 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech. In her spare time, Ms. Contee enjoys hiking, yoga, movies and tai chi sword.
Ijeoma Ezeofor, Program Development, Learning and Engagement
Ijeoma has served Exhale as talkline counselor, online moderator, training intern, fundraiser, and ambassador. She came to Exhale in 2009 and has continued to serve the organization as a pro-voice leader in a variety of programmatic capacities. Ijeoma uses her inside knowledge and insight to consult with Exhale on issues related to volunteer counselor training and organizational culture. Ijeoma is currently in graduate school with research and clinical interests in well-being, self-compassion, and self care.
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.
Michelle Gislason, MA, Senior Project Director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.
Michelle is responsible for the program creation and management of several of CompassPoint’s leadership programs, including the Coaching and Philanthropy Project, the Blue Shield of California Foundation Strong Field Project, and the Leadership Development Program for Executives Serving Transition-Age Youth. Michelle is an instructor at University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs and recently co-authored the award-winning book “Coaching Skills for Nonprofits Managers and Leaders (Jossey-Bass)."
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.
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.
Kristin Rothballer, Organizational Development & Strategy Consultant
Kristin is a social change leader, with a focus on where care for the planet meets advocacy for equality and justice. She consults on strategy, program development and organizational development for nonprofits, foundations, farms and social enterprises. Her current work includes serving as the Strategic Miracles Director for COAL, a musical designed to engage people around climate change, and piloting the development of a retreat center at the Toll House/Bell Valley Farms, a ranch in Mendocino County, CA. Kristin was previously the Program Director at Tunitas Creek Ranch/New Priorities Foundation, a foundation and working farm that hosted educational programs and retreats. She was the Managing Director of Green for All, an organization she helped to found, which is working to build an inclusive green economy. For many years, Kristin worked as the Director of Programs at Bioneers, where she led efforts to widen participation in ecological and community restoration, particularly among underserved youth. Her background includes nonprofit management, teaching, community organizing and marketing strategy. Kristin serves on the Board of Trustees for the Tyler Rigg Foundation and also on the Board of Directors for Windcall and Edventure More.
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!"
Charlie Glickman, PhD, sexuality coach and certified sex educator
Charlie works with individuals and couples to help them create happy, fulfilling sexual relationships. He is certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and has trained medical and mental health professionals, clergy, non-profit organizations, and community groups. Charlie's areas of expertise include sex-positivity, sex & shame, masculinity and gender, sexual politics, communities of erotic affiliation, and many sexual and relationship practices. You can find out more about him on his website or on Twitter and Facebook.
Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, Women Donors Network
Jenifer is Senior Director of Membership & Communications at Women Donors Network, and has a wide range of experience in communications, donor organizing, strategy development, grassroots organizing, and multi-racial coalition building. She worked most recently as Director of Strategic Communications at Citizen Engagement Laboratory, where she helped to launch and grow progressive online organizing initiatives focused on communities of color, including Presente.org and ColorOfChange.org. Previously, Jenifer served as a Senior Advisor to Steve Phillips and Susan Sandler, as a consultant to the Democracy Alliance, as a top legislative aide in the California State Assembly, and as a news reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Crafting clear communications around a new progressive economic narrative has been a major focus, and her work has included consulting to the Roosevelt Institute, Netroots Nation and National People’s Action.
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.
Thaler Pekar, Thaler Pekar & Partners
Thaler is a leading voice in the field of organizational narrative, ethical storysharing, and communication. Thaler always crosses the street to walk on the sunny side.
Jason Schultz, Director, Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic; UC Berkeley School of Law
Jason is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Before joining Boalt Hall as a faculty member in the Samuelson Clinic, he was a Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the leading digital rights groups in the world. His writing primarily focuses on the ongoing struggle to balance intellectual property regimes with the public interest in free expression, access to knowledge, and innovation in light of new technologies and the challenges they pose.
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.
Aimee R. Thorne-Thomsen, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Advocates for Youth
Aimee has an extensive background in communications, movement-building, and new media technologies across various social justice movements. Currently, she is the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Advocates for Youth, a national organization dedicated to helping young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Prior to joining the staff at Advocates, she served as the Interim Executive Director for the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and the Executive Director of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP). Aimee sits on the Boards of Directors of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, RH Reality Check, and Mobilize the Immigrant Vote. You can follow her on Twitter: @aimeett
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