Steph Herold is a lot of things: a lover of pitbulls and young adult literature, a fervent social justice advocate, and a Twitter maven with over 15,000 followers. She’s also one of our longstanding All-Options donors and the focus of this first post in our inaugural donor profile series!
We caught up with Steph recently to talk about her commitment to All-Options, what energizes her about the work we do together, and discussed her #30for30 social media campaign where she donated $30 to a social justice organization every day of the month in honor of her 30th birthday. Brilliant, right? Read on to learn more about this incredible and generous All-Options supporter.
How did you first learn about All-Options (then Backline) and what inspired you to make your first donation?
The first time I encountered Backline was when I worked as a counselor at an abortion clinic. Backline was and All-Options continues to be a crucial resource clinic staff provide to patients who need extra time talking out their pregnancy options, processing their decision to have an abortion, or just talking to someone who’s there to validate and explore their feelings about anything related to pregnancy. I remember feeling really confident giving patients Backline/All-Options’ information, because we consistently heard that the hotline provided high quality, compassionate services.
I’m not actually sure when I made my first donation — my guess is when you decided to open the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Indiana. I was really inspired by the innovation and wanted to put my money where my mouth was in terms of supporting really transformational work.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that All-Options does? What makes All-Options a unique resource or sets it apart from other reproductive justice organizations?
I’m consistently impressed with all of the work All-Options does, really. I think the combination of having a national hotline combined with an in-person resource center is brilliant, especially addressing the full spectrum of people’s reproductive needs: parenting resources like diapers, abortion funding, and counseling about adoption. This kind of programming actually reflects the reality of people’s lives – very few people only have one reproductive experience, and I love that All-Options is there for you no matter what you’re going through.
I’ve also known Parker, All-Options’ Executive Director, for a few years and am really inspired by her leadership and the way she lives out the organization’s values through program work and internal systems like management and operations.
You recently had a birthday and took on a #30for30 campaign to honor it. Can you tell our readers about #30for30 and why you chose All-Options to be one of the orgs you supported?
Turning 30 seems like a serious milestone, and one I’ve been thinking about for a while, mostly with excitement and curiosity. I wanted to do something to mark it in a way that felt different than other birthdays, particularly because the world is in such an awful place right now. So I decided to donate $30 every day to a different social justice non-profit for the month leading up to my birthday, and I chronicled the donations on Twitter using the hashtag #30for30 (which I later learned is also a sports show, oops).
I really wanted to expand the pool of social justice organizations I support – I’m already a monthly donor to a few abortion funds and to pitbull rescue groups, two of the causes closest to my heart. Given the disastrous state of political affairs, it feels irresponsible for people who have the means to donate to stay committed only to their pet issues, so I did my best to expand that, donating to international women’s groups fighting poverty, groups funding bail bonds here in Brooklyn, groups fighting the president’s travel ban in court and on the streets, etc. All-Options seemed like an obvious fit – an organization that will become even more crucial as social services get cut.
How would you like to see All-Options grow in 2018 and in the following 5 years? What does All-Options look like to you in 2023?
I’m going to turn this question on its head. I actually don’t think donors should drive an organization’s growth priorities or strategy. I’d much rather see the All-Options team look at the last few years, see what the communities you serve need, and figure out the most strategic ways to grow in the future. I trust the team to know what makes the most sense, whether that’s expanding hotline operations, opening another Pregnancy Resource Center, or something else entirely.
Tell us a little bit about you – what you do in the world, what your hobbies are, whatever you’d like to share. What’s one thing others would be surprised to learn about you?
Right now I’m trying my hand as a consultant and am working with a bunch of kickass organizations in our field on different research and communications projects related to expanding abortion access. It’s a real privilege to get to jump into an organization’s work and plug in to help them make change in the world. Part of what’s great about being a consultant is that I get a little more free time to devote to my hobbies — walking my dog in Prospect Park, going to as many art museums as possible, listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks while baking extraneous chocolate items, and reading tons of young adult lit. Right now I’m reading Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, and it’s glorious. I think people would be surprised to learn that despite living in and loving Brooklyn, I’m a suburban girl at heart — give me a giant supermarket and I’m happy.
What other movements, causes, and/or organizations are important to you and why?
I think it’s our duty as progressives in this particularly awful moment to open our eyes to the movements and causes we’ve supported from afar and double down on investing in them with time and/or money. To me, that means taking a hard look at what communities are most impacted by this administration’s atrocious policies and giving what I can to organizations helping incarcerated LGBTQ folks, elevating the voices of Black women in media, defending the rights of immigrants struggling to make ends meet, and working to end police brutality. There are also causes I will always support no matter what because they’ve touched my life for years — abortion funds and pitbull rescue organizations like BAD RAP. To many of these groups, even a $5 monthly donation makes a huge difference in their long-term sustainability.
If you could have anyone over to your home, living or passed, who would it be and what would you make them for dinner?
My two younger sisters, Lauren and Bella. They’re my best friends and the people who really get me no matter what. I’d choose them every day over any famous person, hands down. We spent a few years growing up in China so my guess is we’d order Chinese food for ourselves, probably a few different varieties of dumplings, and then make three different desserts to share.