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Letter from Lisa

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I missed my colleagues so much on Wednesday, December 1. I wanted to be with them, listening to the presentation of the pivotal Mississippi abortion case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to the Supreme Court. We would have been breaking down every argument and analyzing every statement. But I have been on leave from RHAP since September 7 and won’t return to work full time until Monday, January 3. What originally started out for me as a sabbatical, turned into a medical and family leave – a time for healing, grieving, resting, and regrouping. 

As a co-founder of the organization, I have been at RHAP for over 15 years and was looking forward to taking advantage of RHAP’s new sabbatical leave benefit -10 weeks of paid time off for all employees working full time for seven years- during the summer and fall of 2020. I’m originally from Miami, and my plan was to work on the ground in Florida to do what I could to help turn that notoriously purple state blue in time for the 2020 elections. But the pandemic upended those plans. So much was in flux during the early months of the pandemic that I decided it was more important for me to be a steady presence at home and at work. I came up with a new plan: to take off October through December 2021, and travel across the country in an RV (something on my bucket list!), then spend some time volunteering with Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight organization. 

However, in late August I found out that I had a tumor on one of my ovaries that was very concerning. I had surgery in early September. Fortunately, I will not need further treatment for cancer. Then, in late September both my parents contracted Covid. My sister, who was caring for them, got the virus as well. My sister recovered quickly, but both my parents were hospitalized in Miami, and my father died in the hospital in early October. I spent October and November in Miami supporting my sister and my mom’s recovery.

I am now back home in Brooklyn, resting, regrouping, and thinking about how RHAP will strategically move through what looks very likely to be a post-Roe world. I know this will require the best of all of us; there will be so much important, heartbreaking work to be done.

I am grateful for the time off I have had to completely disconnect, focus on getting better, and be with my family in Florida. I am grateful that my colleagues have stepped up and taken on new responsibilities during my absence so that RHAP can continue to operate smoothly. It is so important for organizations to support staff to take care of themselves, especially during this time, so that they can show up healthy, present, and ready to adapt to whatever the future holds. 

Thank you for supporting RHAP. I hope we can count on you, especially in 2022, as our work will surely be even more challenging.     

By: Lisa Maldonado, MA, MPH
Executive Director, Co-Founder

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