8.5.2021 – (PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights today announced the election of five new members and one returning member to the organization’s Board of Directors. As the only INGO focused globally on reproductive rights law, the Center is a nonpartisan organization headquartered in New York City with offices in Bogota, Geneva, Nairobi, and Washington, DC.
“As we launch a new Strategic Plan with an audacious goal of ensuring that half of the world’s population will live under stronger protections for reproductive rights by 2030, this talented group of leaders will be critical to our mission,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Their dedication and diverse expertise will help guide our work to protect human rights for the dignity, equality, health and well-being of every person.”
The new Board members are accomplished leaders from the fields of law, publishing, human rights, and public affairs:
Penny Abeywardena, New York City Commissioner for International Affairs (New York)
Gina Pell, content chief of The What, an online network of over 100,000 women who connect, share, and learn through the lens of lifestyle and leadership (Sausalito)
Anitha Reddy, a partner of the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (New York)
Paula Samper Salazar, a partner at the law firm Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (Bogota)
Jamia Wilson, a feminist activist, writer, and speaker, and vice president and executive editor at Random House (New York)
Cynthia Blumenthal, activist for women’s health, personal autonomy, and fundamental human rights, who previously served from 2014 through 2020 (Greenwich, CT/Washington, DC)
The Center’s game-changing litigation and advocacy work, combined with its unparalleled expertise in the use of constitutional, international, and comparative human rights law, has transformed how reproductive rights are understood by courts, governments and human rights bodies around the world. The Center has played a key role in securing legal victories in the U.S., Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe on issues including access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception, safe abortion services, and comprehensive sexuality information.
The organization’s groundbreaking cases have been brought before national courts, U.N. Committees, and regional human rights bodies, and have built the legal capacity of women’s rights advocates in more than 65 countries and established legal networks around the world. In the U.S., the Center has been involved in every major U.S. Supreme Court abortion case and is before the Court again for the third time in five years, challenging Mississippi’s unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban in which the state is calling to overturn Roe.
Current board member Joseph A. Stern, a managing director in the legal department at Goldman Sachs, was elected Chair of the board.
“I’m honored to be heading the board of this outstanding organization, which has secured landmark victories at the U.S. Supreme Court, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and other leading courts around the world,” said Stern. “I look forward to helping to guide the Center for Reproductive Rights with my colleagues on the Board as the Center continues to build, enforce, and defend reproductive rights for all people.”
Three board members — Amy Metzler Ritter (Chair), Kathleen Tait (former Chair), and Maria Cardona — have completed their terms.
“We thank Amy, Kathleen and Maria for their immeasurable contributions and stewardship as the Center continued to grow and thrive and meet its challenges,” said Northup. “They helped guide the organization through the Covid-19 pandemic, landmark international human rights cases in Kenya and Ecuador, and two wins at the U.S. Supreme Court challenging unconstitutional state abortion laws.”
About the new Board members:
Penny Abeywardena is New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs. As the City’s ambassador, Penny leads the agency serving the largest diplomatic corps in the world and is the primary representative to the United Nations, 193 Permanent Missions, 116 Consulates and 75 trade missions. She is on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships. Penny serves on New York City’s Covid-19 Reopen Task Force focused on Racial Equity & Inclusion, UN Secretary General’s SDG Strategy Hub, the Innovation Advisory Committee for 92Y, and is co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Cities of Tomorrow. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and completed her Master of International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Cynthia Blumenthal is a dedicated activist for women’s health, personal autonomy, and fundamental human rights. She has worked as Senior Advisor on her husband, Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) 13 successful elective campaigns. Cynthia has served on various boards including: Meals on Wheels, the YWCA, the Research and Grants Committee of the Fund for Women and Girls, as well as working with the Breast Cancer Alliance and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. In addition to her service on the Center for Reproductive Rights Board, she is currently a Board member of Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), a Commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and serves on the Advisory Council of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Ms. Blumenthal is a graduate of Harvard University.
Gina Pell is a serial entrepreneur and content chief of The What, an online network with a vibrant community of over 100,000 women who connect, share, and learn through the lens of lifestyle and leadership. Pell is an early internet pioneer who built the cult brand Splendora in 1999, which was acquired by Joyus to launch the world’s first video shopping platform. She is best known for building digital communities of influential women. Pell graduated from University of California at Berkeley and attended the Pratt Painting and Printmaking program in Venice at the Universita dell’Arte.
Anitha Reddy is a partner of the law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Her practice focuses on representing directors and corporations in disputes involving mergers and acquisitions, contests for corporate control, and corporate governance matters, as well as in class and derivative actions alleging breaches of fiduciary duty. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, where she was managing editor of the Stanford Law Review. Ms. Reddy served as a clerk to Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Paula Samper Salazar is a partner at the law firm, Gómez-Pinzón Abogados, based in Bogotá, Colombia. During her 30-year career at Gómez-Pinzón, Ms. Samper has worked in the corporate practice group and now heads the real estate group and the Pro Bono practice of the firm. Ms. Samper was part of the drafting committee of the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas, an initiative of the Cyrus Vance Center for International Justice, which has now been signed by more than 450 law firms and legal groups across the Americas. After this project, Ms. Samper promoted in 2009 the creation of the Colombian Pro Bono clearinghouse (Fundación Pro Bono Colombia), of which she is an honorary member of the board. Ms. Samper is also a founding member of the Diversity & Inclusion committee of Gómez-Pinzón and the Women in the Profession committee of the Vance Center. Current not-for-profit positions include being the president of the board of Instituto Roosevelt Hospital, Vice-president of the board of Universidad de los Andes, and member of the board of WWF Colombia and Fundación El Veinte. She is a graduate of Universidad de los Andes and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Corporate Social Responsibility at Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.
Jamia Wilson is a feminist activist, writer, and speaker. She joined Random House as vice president and executive editor in 2021. As the former director of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York and the former VP of programs at the Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a leading voice on women’s rights issues for over a decade. Her work has appeared in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, the Today Show, CNN, Elle, BBC, Rookie, Refinery 29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post. She is the author of This Book Is Feminist, Young, Gifted, and Black, the introduction and oral history in Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World, Step Into Your Power: 23 Lessons on How to Live Your Best Life, Big Ideas for Young Thinkers, ABC’s of AOC, and the co-author of Roadmap for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Advocacy, and Activism for All.