JUNE 22, 2020 (PORTLAND, ORE.) – Following a four-month national search, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s Board of Directors has selected current Political Director, Christel Allen, as the organization’s next Executive Director.
Most recently, Allen has served as Political Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon. During this time, she led NARAL’s work to re-elect Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and played a pivotal role in the decisive defeat of Measure 106, an attempt to pass a backdoor ban on abortion. In 2019 she worked to pass HB 2005, the most inclusive paid family and medical leave law in the nation. Prior to her time at NARAL, Allen had a record of impressive campaign and policy victories including Yes on Measures 66 & 67 in 2010, and the successful reelections of Rep. Earl Blumenaur, Governor John Kitzhaber, and Senator Jeff Merkley.
Upon the announcement, Allen shared the following, “I am humbled and honored for this opportunity to lead our movement at this moment. The inequities that have been laid bare by COVID-19 are great — as is this page in the long history of violence endured by our Black community members. This moment requires all of us to listen and reflect, and most importantly, to act. People are counting on us, and we must keep fighting until EVERYbody has access to the care they need, has full autonomy over their reproductive decisions, and can live free from violence, oppression, stigma, and shame. As our next Executive Director, I am ready for this fight. Together, we can and we will usher in a new era of reproductive freedom—and liberation for all.”
“We know she is going to be a great leader for our organization, as she has been a proven and dynamic leader in this movement, and across Oregon for over 10 years,” said Board President Olivia Stone. “This is a year of unprecedented challenges, and we are lucky to have someone with Christel’s political expertise, her empathy and her dedication to reproductive justice.”
“Christel is the best person I know at building teams and movements toward a common goal,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon PAC Chair Shauna Ballo. “She is respected by her peers, has solid strategic instincts and brings a justice-centered approach to reproductive advocacy. Her unyielding commitment to long-term culture and systems change is what we need in Oregon right now.”
Allen will be the first woman of color to lead NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon. She is ready to lead the organization and the larger reproductive freedom movement in building a more resilient, more equitable, more just, and kinder Oregon for all. Raised in Salem, Ore., Allen credits her success to Oregon’s diverse community of progressive leaders, and derives her passion for this work from her family, comprised of first-generation Oregonians, Mexican immigrants, survivors, working mothers, and her parents who came from different working-class worlds, but who taught her to lead with empathy, solidarity, and grit.
While Oregon is recognized as a national leader in the pro-choice movement, the impact of the current federal administration, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, have threatened access to reproductive health services across the state. Threats of public charge, ICE, and family separations are impacting access for many within Oregon’s immigrant communities. Many people within our corrections systems lack access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, and the mass incarceration of mothers has a profound impact on a person’s ability to parent, and tears at the fabric of our communities. Oregon also has among the highest percentage of patients who receive care via a religiously-affiliated health care facility and/or health plan, many of which, have a history of imposing restrictions or other barriers to abortion, birth control options, and gender affirming care.
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NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon develops and sustains a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every person who can become pregnant the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.