One year ago today, our Backline team expanded with the addition of our Engagement Assistant, Kalila – and are we ever lucky! Kalila started working with Backline in 2015 as a Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC) intern through the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College and quickly proved herself to be an invaluable asset to our team. Now as our Engagement Assistant, Kalila contributes to so many areas of our work – outreach, development, and operations, to name a few! – and her humor, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness make her an incredible coworker.
Happy 1-year workiversary, Kalila! Here’s to the first 365 days and to many more to come. Read on for an inside scoop on Kalila and her work with Backline!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you come to work at Backline?
I began working with Backline a little over a year ago when I was accepted to CLPP’s Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC) internship program. I heard about the internship program through social media and I couldn’t believe a nationwide, paid internship program for reproductive justice work existed. I was about to finish my freshman year of college, and even though I had been passionate about reproductive justice since 8th grade, I hadn’t done any work in the movement since I graduated high school. This was the perfect opportunity to do something I loved in a professional rather than volunteer setting, which I had never experienced before. The RRASC program asks you to list your top five organizations, and pairs you with the one they believe is the best fit. Backline was actually not my first choice, but it didn’t take me long to realize this was the perfect fit. It is absolutely the best place to carry out my passions in a tangible way.
What’s your favorite thing about the work you do here?
I love how Backline’s non-judgmental, open-hearted counseling model extends beyond the Talkline and All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, and carries into our work culture. The Backline team is so incredibly warm, open, understanding, flexible, and supportive. I love working in such a loving environment and I feel so incredibly lucky every day to have this job and to be part of this movement.
Why is an all-options approach to reproductive health and support important to you?
Backline’s all-options framework has simultaneously challenged and affirmed my strongest convictions about why reproductive justice matters. The all-options model enables us to move past old pro-life/pro-choice dichotomies and recognize the complexity of people’s lived experiences. The all-options model is truly revolutionary because the work we do doesn’t just make tangible change, such as giving someone diapers or providing free counseling, but makes cultural change as well. We can bring people together who have different viewpoints about what pregnancy and parenting decisions should be and come to a common understanding: that everyone deserves dignity and support in making the best pregnancy and parenting decision for themselves, their families, and their communities.
What’s your best Backline memory to date and what are you looking forward to as Backline grows?
I think my best Backline memory is the second day of my internship, when Parker, our Executive Director, drove me to San Francisco so I could observe a Pregnancy Options Workshop that she facilitated for a group of nurses. This is where I saw the all-options approach being worked into practice, as I listened to nurses examine their own biases and work together to put them aside and figure out how best to support their patients. It showed me that this framework is a useful tool even for folks who don’t directly work in the reproductive justice movement or who wouldn’t normally see themselves giving referrals for abortion AND adoption AND pregnancy.
What I’m really looking forward to is the opening of another All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center. While we don’t know yet where it will be or when it will open, the prospect of growth and bringing our work and resources to more people that need it is so exciting.
What’s your favorite thing to do for fun?
I love exploring the Bay Area by bus with my friends. None of us have cars so it’s been a fun project to take as many different bus routes as possible on our adventures. This is of course paired with tons of photo taking – my phone is almost out of memory due to the 18,000 pictures I’ve taken in the past year.
If you could have any one person, living or dead, over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you make?
I think I would invite both of my late grandmothers. I would love to talk to them and ask them questions about our family and their childhoods. My grandma Marion would cook us a full Italian meal and my grandma Janine would make spice cake and open pints of Ben & Jerry’s for dessert.
If Backline’s mission were achieved and all people had the support and resources they needed for pregnancy parenting, abortion, and adoption experiences, where would you want to give more of your time?
I’m a pretty creative person and due to being in school and working, I haven’t had enough time to do music, art, and crafting. In middle and high school I played the bass guitar in jazz band and I really miss playing music with other people and going to live jazz shows with my friends. I would get back into music if I had more time, as well as do way more crafting – sewing, screenprinting, etc. If I really had all the time in the world I’d get into filmmaking. I have a lot of cool ideas for films about abortion and other reproductive experiences and it would be so amazing to create these. We don’t have enough representation of diverse reproductive experiences in the media.