Last week, we brought together over 50 Network leaders for the first-ever Network Leadership Summit. Held in Chicago, the Summit was a day-long strategic planning retreat and leadership training for Network leaders from Clusters around the country. We had representation from 20 of our 23 Clusters, as well as a few of RHAP’s strongest advocates within the American Academy of Family Physicians. We were lucky to have Miriam Yeung, MPA, a longtime community organizer and reproductive justice advocate, facilitate this great training.
The day started out with welcome speeches from RHAP’s Executive Director, Lisa Maldonado, and Medical Director, Linda Prine, who both explained the importance and purpose of bringing together leaders from across the country to collaborate and strategize. Lisa reminded us that we are all a part of something larger – the Network is now 2,800 members strong, thanks to the efforts of our wonderful leaders! After these introductions, Miriam led us in some ice breaker activities (that involved some running and movement) and, as we prepared to sit down, the power went out! This didn’t stop us, however – in fact, the power outage helped us bond even more (though we were relieved when the power came back on).
Despite the blackout, the morning session carried on with RHAPid Raps, where several Cluster leaders shared quick tidbits on a few issues that are important to our movement, such as self-managed abortion, six-week bans, and the impact of the newly proposed Title X rules. After these quick updates, we dived right into an exercise using the Root Cause Analysis tool, which helped us understand why it’s critical that we organize as clinicians to expand access to abortion care. Then, before lunch, RHAP National Organizer Laura Riker presented on RHAP’s theory of change and our strategy for expanding access to reproductive health care.
After lunch, Hailey Broughton-Jones, RHAP’s Program and Communications Associate, led us in a conversation about activism within the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Like the American Medical Association and other professional medical associations, the AAFP is a voice for family medicine that is listened to by lobbyists and policy-makers at the national level. We’re working hard to make sure that the AAFP as an organization advocates for reproductive health care in family medicine so that we can ensure that primary care clinicians have access to the proper training and support to bring full-spectrum reproductive health care into their primary care settings.
Finally, we closed out the day by giving each Cluster leadership team space to develop a strategy and concrete goals for their Cluster in the coming year. The ideas that were generated range from partnering with community organizations to presenting at AAFP meetings to hosting medication abortion trainings, movie screenings, journal clubs, and much more. This Summit was the first concerted effort to bring all Cluster leadership together in one space to share ideas and develop concurrent strategies for growing their Clusters. We left feeling inspired, energized, and with a clearer sense of purpose – and we look forward to continuing our leadership development trainings with our leaders in the future!