Last month we welcomed a fresh crop of Talkline advocates to Backline and they’re already underway providing unbiased, all-options support to our callers in the U.S. and Canada. As we gained these new volunteers, we also said goodbye to veteran advocates whose journeys are taking them off the phones and onto new experiences. Rising Radvocates offers a snapshot of these incredibly dedicated volunteers and serves as a way for us to publicly honor and thank them for their work with Backline. These folks are our family, so while we’re sad to see them go, we can’t wait to see what they do next!
Risa Cromer was a Backline advocate for five years and transitioned out of her volunteer position in July 2016. Of her time at Backline, Risa writes:
“Being a part of the Backline community for five years was one of those deeply affecting experiences that changed me to the core, irreversibly and for the better. I came to Backline in the middle of doctoral studies in anthropology and after relocating from NY. I was attracted to all-options talkline advocacy because I thought it would complement my previous experience as a full-spectrum doula as well as my academic research on reproductive technologies and politics. I quickly realized that, as a result of being on the line and in the Backline community, I was changing in fundamental and profound ways. Simply put, collaborating with other radvocates and taking calls allowed me to tap into a more inquisitive, introspective, self-aware, and honest side of myself. While I learned a lot in classrooms and books over the years en route to becoming an anthropologist, it was Backline radvocacy that taught me how and why to listen well. The ripple effects of these seemingly simple lessons have been deep and wide, and felt in all aspects of my life as an ethnographer, friend, partner, teacher, and daughter. For such reasons, I’ve come to see Backline as a social change agent, and in ways not limited to our interactions with callers or clients. Radvocates – long after we leave the line and wherever we go – carry with us what we learned in connection with each other, which is to hold space for life’s complexities and let people know as often as we can that they are seen and heard. I am both proud and humbled to be one of us.”
Our Portland-based Program Manager, Charley Downing, reflects on Risa’s commitment to the Talkline and her unique skill set that so informed her time with Backline:
“Risa’s impact within our radvocate and repro health and justice community cannot be overstated. As our Radvocate Spirit Commissioner, she facilitated the important work of consciousness raising within our Talkline cohorts. We all thrived through Risa’s wise and compassionate leadership. Additionally, Risa supported community justice work through the curation of RJ:PDX events. Together with former radvocate, Emily Padua, Risa helped to nourish our reproductive health and advocacy community through their mindful curation of nearly two years of salon events and community dialogues. Risa accomplished all this while completing her PhD, taking calls on the Backline Talkine, and being a constant and solid wealth of wisdom, love, and support. We are so fortunate to know and love our dear friend, Risa Cromer.”
Having recently graduated with her PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center, Risa leaves the Talkline to serve as a Thinking Matters fellow at Stanford University. We’re so proud of her landing this wonderful opportunity and look forward to witnessing the changes we know she’ll continue to make in the world.