Across our Textline Peer Counselors, Behind the Scenes Volunteers, Textline and Behind the Scenes Coordinators, and Board of Directors, we rise together to meet the needs of people after their abortions through adaptation and innovation, being consistent in our excellence, and supporting one another as both leaders and followers.
Exhale Pro-Voice was developed through the work of many caring people. Exhale Pro-Voice’s counseling model was first developed by Carolina de Robertis. Over time it has evolved, with significant contributions made by Kristen Shultz Oliver and Danielle Thomas. A number of others have shaped our model, including former volunteers, staff, and allies. We would like to thank Vanissar Tarakali, Danielle Siegel, Susan Lehman, Vicki Breitbart, Jessica Friedman, Amber Dawn Hallet, Lynne Randall, Jill Zawisza, and staff of La Casa de Las Madres in San Francisco.
For her leadership and vision, we give special thanks to Aspen Baker, who first envisioned the possibility of Exhale Pro-Voice and has been a leading innovator of pro-voice practices; as well as the four other women who joined her to launch Exhale Pro-Voice: Anna Goldstein, Carolina de Robertis, Laura Perez, and Susan Chorley.
Exhale Pro-Voice appreciates the many individuals and foundations who have supported the operation and growth of Exhale Pro-Voice’s services, especially the following: Third Wave Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, The Moriah Fund, The Mary Wohlford Foundation, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.
Board of Directors
As a volunteer-led organization, we have a working Board of Directors. Exhale Pro-Voice Board Members strategically and practically run the organization, taking on tasks in communications and networking, fundraising, training, and anti-oppression.
Rachel L. Dyer, Wisconsin (she/her)
Rachel L Dyer is the Chair of the Exhale Pro-Voice Board of Directors. She began volunteering with Exhale in 2020, first as a textline counselor, and then as a Textline Coordinator and Board Member. She is a white, queer, cisgender woman from the Midwest. She is the eldest daughter and a big sister, a partner and wife, and a friend. Rachel can often be found hiking, drinking lots and lots of coffee, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Rachel’s path in life is significantly guided by having an abortion as a 15-year-old girl living in rural Wisconsin – crossing state lines for an appointment at an independent clinic that was run out of that community less than a year later. Intending to protect her from others’ judgment, Rachel’s family told her to keep her abortion a secret – but this only fanned the flames of stigma and shame. Secrecy took a toll on Rachel’s mental health and wellbeing.
When Rachel started college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, she decided to try volunteering with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. Through this work, she became connected to others with abortion stories and began to understand the impact of abortion stigma on their wellbeing – and her own.
This led Rachel to pursue paths in psychotherapy, research, education, and activism with a focus on how dominant cultural and societal values impact pregnancy experiences, desires, and decisions. Rachel earned both her B.S. (Psychology, Neurobiology) and M.S. (Counseling) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she remains a student today, now working toward my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. She is affiliated with the UW Collaborative for Reproductive Equity and is a 2021-2022 Emerging Scholar with the Society of Family Planning.
Since 2013, Rachel has risen as a local, state, and national leader, guiding a Planned Parenthood-affiliated student organization to win the national 2015 Planned Parenthood Generation Action Award for Outstanding Student Organization, becoming co-chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Health Center Advocacy Board, and developing the Plan C Ambassadors of Information volunteer program, among other accomplishments. Rachel has also been featured in Ms. Magazine and the Speaking Light into Abortion podcast, and has published two pieces related to abortion on Medium.
Rachel believes that if her 15-year-old self could see her now, that she would be in awe of how far we have come – transforming the pain of stigma into growth, empathy, and a deep commitment to finding new paths toward liberation.
Amy Congdon, Kansas (she/her)
Amy Congdon is a mental health therapist in Kansas City, where she resides with her spouse and two children. A former teacher, she is also actively engaged in her local community around issues of race, equity, and education.
Amy has been a volunteer with Exhale as a talkline counselor since late 2018 and believes the pro-voice movement is needed now more than ever. As a queer, Asian American woman, she recognizes the importance of storytelling as a way of deepening the understanding of identities in ourselves and others. In her therapy practice, Amy seeks to work directly with those impacted by religious trauma, where shame and stigma often surrounds sex, sexuality, abortion, and reproductive rights. She joins the Exhale board with myriad experiences of community volunteer and organizing work, a background in education and experience working with teens and adolescents within religious communities, and a passion to see change enacted in the world, one relationship and story at a time.
Kayla Hurd, California (they/them)
Kayla Hurd is currently pursuing a double bachelor of science in biochemistry and public health at Mills College. As a person interested in sexual health, Kayla has experience working as a gynecological teacher associate for Project Prepare. They also volunteer(ed) for several local non profits organizations, currently serves as a BoD member for Berkeley Free Clinic, is certified as a Full Spectrum Doula, and is a First Responder to the SARs-Cov-2 pandemic.
As a Berkeley Free Clinic member Kayla was introduced to EXHALE via looking at a flyer on the ‘resource wall’. Immediately, they felt the need to connect and share space with folks in need of services they once seeked. Since April of 2019, Kayla has contributed to EXHALE as a textline peer counselor. Within the short time they have been here, Kayla has shared personal experiences that have sparked positive change within the organization. By demonstrating deep reflection, true honesty, and follow up actions, Kayla was able to impact the way in which we currently provide services for non-English speakers. Now, EXHALE is currently working to build on our services provided in Spanish and provide training for more volunteers to support this change. It is this type of change Kayla wishes to continue to implement by sharing their personal experiences and times of reflection as a volunteer.
As a Black, queer, two-spirirted, person working to become an OBGYN physcian, Kayla actively works to integrate the value of acknowledging people’s intersecting identities in order to practice more inclusive medicine. Kayla works to continue to bring their queer experience into theirs work spaces inorder to provide a more adequate enviornment for queer people to safely share space, obtain resources, and be able to be heard. Kayla is mostly motivated by the historical injustices of Black bodies in obstetrics, their community, and their own adverse experiences navigating the traditional and non-traditional health care system. That being said, they hope to embark on a lifelong holistic study of obstetric violence in America — specifically as it pertains to the Black birthing body. As of now, Kayla believes obstetrics is often solely looked at from an anatomical perspective and thus ends up missing many important components that affect an individual’s sexual health — in essence this may be percieved as an over compensation on the behalf of a provider due to lack of exposure to queer people, culture, history, and knowledge. Therefore, some queer people experience their gender respresnetataion and or identity being the sole focus of every visit instead of their provider having the ability to recognize the underline impacts their identity has on access to resources or interactions with providers. Thus, Kayla heavily values not only seeing more BIPOC queer folks being involved in providing health resources such as those related to the ones provided by EXHALE but, also contributing in adding more comprehensive education on the BIPOC LGBTQ2S+ experience receiving any form of healthcare needs.
Dené S. Mathews, California (she/her)
Dené is a technical project manager and brings over 20 years of management experience and technical expertise from the high tech and telecommunications industries. She holds a MS degree in Information Technology from the University of Maryland and a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Howard University.
She has served on the Exhale Board for about a year and will serve as treasurer for the next term. As the treasurer, she brings her business acumen, wisdom to support the growth of Exhale. She also gives back to her community through serving as a Stephen Leader and Minister at Grace Baptist Church, where she recognized her call to actively listen and to walk with others who find themselves in difficult times of their lives.
She resides in San Jose, CA, where she enjoys cooking, reading, pilates, practicing yoga and spending time with her husband. She is a proud parent to her son, an aspiring Wildlife Epidemiologist. She is excited to be a part of the leadership team of Exhale, to continue the mission for which people can find non-judgmental, confidential care and have a space where they are allowed to heal, to grow and to recognize their wholeness.
Natalie Croul, Massachusetts (she/her)
Natalie Croul is a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital with a degree in Public Health. She has a passion for equitable sexual and reproductive health and started at Exhale as a counselor in 2019 and is now a co-coordinator and board member. She brings a background in trauma-informed, adolescent sexual health and consent education as well as experience with research within the OB/GYN field.
Natalie was born and raised in Southern California but feels most at home in the Bay Area. She is new to the East Coast and is currently in a post-baccalaureate program in preparation to become an OB/GYN. As soon as she learned about Exhale from a former colleague, she knew it was something she wanted to be a part of. Her interest in the humanization of medicine and the complexities of reproductive healthcare align closely with Exhale’s mission to bring forth honest personal experiences around abortion. She believes strongly in offering non-judgmental post-abortion support and is grateful for the opportunity to help people through their abortion journeys.
Nina Sherpa-Pine, California (she/her)
Nina is a Health Promotion Specialist with more than ten years of experience in person-centered care, stigma-reduction, and sexual and reproductive health.
She has an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Nina has been with Exhale since 2017 in a variety of roles, from a staff member to a volunteer-peer counselor on the Talkline and Textline, and is now honoured to serve as a Board Member. Nina strives to center reproductive justice, trauma-responsiveness, and cultural humility in all of her work.
Volunteers and Consultants
Mara Kassoff, Lead Finance Consultant
Mara Kassoff, (she/her) MBA, has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, specializing in human-centered program design, operations, and financial management.
Mara began her career as an educator, with a focus on designing social justice programming to meet the needs of Bay Area vulnerable communities. Bringing a human-centered approach to the operations side of nonprofit organizations, Mara is uniquely positioned to provide nonprofits of all sizes with tools and coaching that create effective and efficient communications between the programming and operations sides of “the house.” She works with nonprofits to help them optimize their organizational infrastructures. She’s thrilled to be supporting Exhale’s financial management needs.
Erin Girardi, Marketing and Communications Consultant
Erin Girardi, (she/her) has been working with nonprofits on their strategic and creative communications for the last ten years.
She started her career traveling around the United States working with university and high school students on outreach tactics in the nonprofit space. She spent the next several years building an international digital team for a movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. With her educational background in design and communication, has moved on to help organize creative teams and guide outward-facing media programs. She is so happy to work with Exhale on their communication needs, and values all that she has learned through their Pro-voice approach.