Let’s hear it for Jessica Giusti, our National Engagement Manager, on her first workiversary with All-Options! We are so lucky to have Jessica bringing her enthusiasm, heart, and brilliant eye for design to all of our grassroots fundraising and communications efforts. If you’ve enjoyed an All-Options Facebook post, responded to an email, or donated to a fundraising campaign, you know what we mean! Her Talkline Bling and #HoosierAF campaigns are legendary! Read on to learn a little more about Jessica and how fabulous she is, at work and beyond.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you come to work at All-Options?
Before leaving to go to graduate school, I worked in reproductive rights for NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List. At both places, I was able to cut my teeth in fundraising and communications and found myself returning to these skills over and over again in different capacities over the next ten years. Once in Minnesota for school, I remained really passionate about abortion rights, but wanted to be involved in direct service, so I worked at a local clinic as a reproductive health counselor. It was incredibly meaningful work for me and taught me how intrinsically linked racial, economic, and reproductive justice are. Academia wasn’t the place for me, so after I finished my PhD, I started looking for positions that could use my skills, but didn’t compromise on having a loud and proud approach to social justice and intersectional movement-building. My best friend spotted the All-Options (then Backline) National Engagement Manager job description and forwarded it to me with the subject line: “THIS IS IT! APPLY TO THIS RIGHT NOW!” I mean, how do you say no to that?! You don’t and she was totally right! I read about the position and the organiation and instantly fell in love with all things All-Options. The rest is history!
What’s your favorite thing about the work you do here?
I’m a Virgo so I find challenges like fundraising really energizing and exciting. I love the rush I get designing a campaign or writing an appeal that will compel people to think beyond themselves and redistribute their money to others who need it. I also really enjoy having the opportunity to write and work on op-eds, letters to the editor, and press releases that let more people know about our work at All-Options and our Pregnancy Resource Center.
Why is an all-options approach to reproductive health & support important to you?
I come from a long line of nurses, so compassionate, judgment-free care for others, especially when it comes to reproductive health and navigating the medical industrial complex, has long been a part of my consciousness. As a reproductive health counselor, I had the privilege of supporting a variety of people through many different types of experiences. Their approaches to pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption were so diverse and influenced by the multi-faceted ways they experienced the world. Holding space by providing all-options support acknowledges that our lives are complex, unpredictable, and sometimes messy. As an organization and as an approach, All-Options acknowledges this and treats people with the dignity and respect they deserve.
What’s your best Backline/All-Options memory to date and what are you looking forward to as we grow?
Finalizing our strategic plan, which contains our organizational goals and values, is my best All-Options memory to date. I’m so tremendously proud of what we’ve identified as essential commitments, both to the organization as a whole and for us as individual staff members. Our strategic plan outlines a vision that supports the communities who use our services, prioritizes cross-movement building, and is a blueprint for our growth. I’m, personally, most excited about our expansion into advocacy – training people to participate in and create change, as well as in identifying the effects of reproductive justice legislation and advocacy work in their communities.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your Backline colleagues.
This is super dorky, but in my freshman year of high school my guidance counselor pushed me into taking a typing class and, for whatever reason, I really, really excelled. At my teacher’s insistence, I wound up going to regional and state typing competitions (I told you it was dorky!) and placed both times. For the regional competition, my prize was a certificate and a troll doll, but the most mortifying part was when my successes made it into the end-of-day announcements over the PA system at school. I somehow graduated high school without being totally and completely ostracized and with a semi-popular friend group, so really, anything is possible! Also, for what it’s worth, I can still type about 95 words per minute.
What’s your favorite thing to do for fun?
Entertaining! I love having friends and family over for meals and parties. Taking the time and care to make an elaborate dinner or plan a really fun outing or event for people I care about is so restorative and brings me total joy! I like making people I love feel spoiled and cared for.
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?
Right now, I’d say my mom because we live half a country apart and she’s one of my very favorite people to spend time with. I’m moving back to the East Coast this summer and will be within 2 hours of her soon, so lots more cooking for her is in the near future. My alternate choice would be Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I recently told our National Talkline Manager, Rachel, that I’m convinced Ina would really love me and find my queer femme domesticity perfectly charming. I stand by it!
If All-Options’ mission were achieved and all ppl had the support and resources they needed for pregnancy parenting, abortion, and adoption experiences, where would you want to give more of your time?
My dad passed away from kidney cancer in 2011 after a 6-year-long battle. Having navigated the trajectory of terminal illness with him, and with my mom both during and after, I think I’d invest my time in furthering the fight for dignity in dying and end-of-life care. My father had a relatively peaceful death thanks to an incredible team of hospice nurses and caregivers, but it’s far from everyone’s experience. I’d want to put time into ensuring more people and their families have better transitions.