This fall, the DC Abortion Fund named Jeryl Hayes as our new president. We asked Jeryl a few questions so our volunteers and supporters can get to know our new leader a little better, and to get her thoughts on reproductive justice today.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve lived in DC since 2011. I originally came to get my masters of law at American University after getting my J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. As a policy wonk, I love living in our nation’s capital and have found some incredible communities here. In my spare time, I enjoy playing softball on the Mall with my rec team (Summer League champions for two years running!), exploring DC’s restaurants and bars with friends, and taking my pup Max to the dog park.
What inspires your volunteer work with DCAF (or, what makes you DCAF?)
I have long admired the impressive abortion support work that DCAF provides for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia communities, particularly in utilizing an all-volunteer team to carry out DCAF’s goals. I’m excited for the opportunity to engage in the direct services of the policies for which I have spent my professional career advocating.
What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your time as president?
I’m looking forward to seeing the ways that DCAF can respond to the needs of our patients and our community. DCAF is about to implement a strategic plan that will further our goals and mission, and will find ways to serve more people and be able to continue to grow, despite the current political focus on rolling back reproductive rights.
How do you stay optimistic in unfriendly political climates?
Although our nation seems more divided than ever, I have been pleasantly surprised by people who have become engaged with the political process instead of being on the sidelines. The grassroot efforts to combat restrictions on health care generally, and abortion and contraceptive care specifically, have been incredibly inspirational. Hearing stories about folks who have put their legislators contact information on speed dial and regularly call their members of Congress has helped me stay optimistic in the face of the current political climate. Seeing people across the country, especially young people, women, and LGBTQ people decide to run for office or get involved with exciting candidates renews my faith that everything will be okay.
What advice do you have for new volunteers or those looking for ways to get involved in the fight for reproductive justice?
There are some incredible reproductive justice advocates working for amazing organizations all across the country and here in DC. Support as many grassroots organizations as you can, including donating to support the work on the ground they are pursuing, engaging and sharing their social media content, and educating yourself about the barriers that still remain in the fight for reproductive justice.