A Good-bye, Much Gratitude and More

This week is my last at RH Reality Check, as I move onto a new full-time position with a major foundation.

It’s hard for me to put into words how much RH Reality Check has meant to me – professionally and personally – over the last four and a half years. A lot. When I started writing for the site, towards the end of 2006, I was working at a feminist health center and blogging on the side. I had too much to say and not enough outlets in which to say it all (my poor husband was getting a little bruised from being used as a sounding board over the years). I was responsible for leading the communication and outreach activities for the health center, and was inspired daily by my fellow staff-women, our clients, and the broader reproductive justice community. While I was busy raising my voice for reproductive rights in Seattle and Washington State, I started blogging to let off steam.

Soon, I discovered a world of feminist-minded, strong-voiced, spirited women blogging about the same issues – Feministing, Amanda Marcotte, Angry Black Bitch, Echidne, and others. I knew we were all part of the same community even without knowing each other; I felt connected in a way I never knew was possible, via the internet. It was soon after that, as I was putting together a screening for Penny Lane’s amazing film, The Abortion Diaries, and an accompanying speak-out for a group of women who had contributed to a booklet my communication team put together called “I Had An Abortion” that I discovered a blog called RH Reality Check. I remember landing on RH Reality Check’s homepage and wondering who was behind this dynamic site which deemed reproductive rights and health critical enough to devote an entire web publication to?

I discovered that the founders were, in fact, David Harwood and Ellen Marshall – both unmatched health advocates, and possibly the most amazing force-of-nature couple I’ve ever met. I am in debt to them for their willingness to open the door to a born-and-bred New Yorker transplanted to the outer edges of this vast country, Seattle, working from home with two young children at my side. It was Scott Swenson, Editor-in-Chief and Founding Editor, and Tyler LePard, Associate Editor, however, who brought me on first as a Staff Writer, then as an Associate Editor full-time.

Scott Swenson’s authentic nature, his passion for life, communication knowlege and his leadership were the bright lights I needed to grow and I am forever grateful to him for that. Scott became a mentor to me over the years, allowing me to thrive through trial and error. His patience (and sometimes impatience) and confidence in me fueled my desire to keep doing and going. Tyler LePard’s support, brilliance and amazing guidance as I was brought up to speed were (and are) treasured.

Almost immediately after that, Brady Swenson was hired and we were off and running. I am so blessed to have been given the chance to work with Brady through the years. Brady runs this site, mostly behind-the-scenes, but without him – literally – the site would not function. That, though, is just a fraction of what Brady brings to this community. His compassion and hilarity help fuel our team, even when situations are difficult and trying. I don’t know what my time at RH Reality Check would have looked like without Brady but I do know that I am unerringly grateful for his laid-back humor, his devotion to building and keeping functional the soapbox we all use to speak out, and his clarity of mind when it’s most needed. If I could give him a standing ovation, I would :).

Although Emily Douglas has moved on to The Nation, where she rocks as web editor, I have been forever changed – in a wonderful way – by her insight, intelligence and genuine openness to soaking in as much knowledge as she possibly can. It was a true honor to work with Emily over the years and it’s an ongoing treat to have been able to continue the relationship as she brings an even broader sexual and reproductive health and rights analyses to the pages of The Nation

Jodi Jacobson, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last couple of years, is (I feel certain) entirely unmatched when it comes to knowledge of this movement, as a whole. Her mind is an utter treasure trove of global reproductive health and rights policy and analyses and I am in awe of her ability to see and explain the big picture, with equal parts passion and compassion, whenever its needed of her. I am so grateful to Jodi for her amazing support and help over the years and for what she’s given to RH Reality Check to make it an even more expansive, dynamic source of knowledge and community for reproductive health and rights advocates.

I wish I could list, by name, all of the incredible people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know and working with – either in person or virtually – over the years. My respect for our thousands of writers and our co-bloggers is immense: from Robin Marty’s no nonsense wit and spot-on analysis of abortion and pregnancy issues to our staff writers: the quick-witted and funniest reproductive health rights writer I know – Amanda Marcotte; the profoundly insightful Pamela Merrit; the sharpest and most entertaining feminist media maven Sarah Seltzer; and a serious sex-ed shero if there ever was one, Heather Corinna, to the birth activist community I worked so hard to connect with in an effort to broaden reproductive justice to include “choice in childbirth” issues. Thank you!

I am also thankful to the United Nations Foundation for their incredible support of the project over the years, allowing us to remain autonomous and strong-voiced through it all!

I do believe that the reproductive justice movement and all women, men and young people the world over who read our site are benefited by the incredible voices of experts, providers, thinkers, advocates, activists, writers, and every day caring individuals who show up daily at RH Reality Check. We are working, daily, to help create a better world for all by exposing the truth about women’s health and lives, providing a voice for those who feel voiceless in the broader traditional media, and by bringing people together to discuss their reproductive and sexual health and lives, and the politics of these issues in our country and our world.

I know RH Reality Check will continue to grow and thrive and change and I hope we all have a role in helping to nurture that growth.

It’s been a wild ride over the years and it’s exactly impossible to quantify how much I’ve learned – not only from my closest colleagues  – but from the broader reproductive justice community. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every day I learn something new from you all about women’s health and rights.

Thanks so much to the entire community – the writers, the readers, the commenters all! I’ll be moving on to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as a Communication Officer on their New Media team. I’ll be writing blog posts, creating community online around the health, development and education issues the foundation supports, and continuing to work with bloggers and writers to share ideas, thoughts and information on how to make the world a better place. I’m sure I’ll show up here, as a commenter, to make my thoughts known when I need a place to vent :). Onward!

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  • brady-swenson

    Amie, thank YOU for your inspriring writing, your amazing spirit and for being a mentor and friend to me over these past several years.  You will be missed here daily, but, as you mention above, thanks to the Internet, we will all stay connected as part of this community seeking reproductive and sexual justice for all.  Cheers to you and best of luck with your new adventure!

  • sarah-seltzer

    for all your support and insight and enthusiasm. Can’t wait to see you do great things at your next venture!

  • robin-marty

    ridiculously missed…

    thank you so much for all of your strength and support during one of the most roller-coster years of my life, both professionally and emotionally.

  • heather-corinna

    Can’t say how much I’ll miss you: it’s been such a treat and an honor being able to work with you, and I look forward to doing it in other ways and to seeing what you do with your new gig!

  • julie-watkins

    Thanks & good luck!

  • amie-newman

    It’s been incredible! I did not, in the least, mean to overlook the amazing Beth Saunders! I have worked in a limited capacity with Beth but she has brought the kind of humor and dedication and focus to our little team that makes me crack up, when I’m working on my couch by myself :). Thanks for all, Beth!


  • scott-swenson

    Amie, you are responsible for so much of the success RH Reality Check enjoys. Congratulations on your success here, and the many successes to come. You are an amazing force for good in this world, and proof that progress on the big ideas that challenge us all, is best made by making the most of each little moment, every day. So proud to have worked with you, even prouder we remain friends.

  • dndesign

    I’m so proud you’re my wife! :)

  • beth-saunders

    Congratulations on your next steps! I’ll miss you, and your wonderful insights on reproductive justice, women’s rights, and pregnant and birthing women.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Amie Congratulations and best wishes! The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is very lucky to have you. I hope you might have time for a guest column from time to time. I will greatly miss your articles here. Mucho thanks!

  • amie-newman

    for the incredible community here!! I’ll be around for sure – lending my comments and sharing everyone’s frustrations, and passion for change :).

  • mary-beth-hastings

    I’ve really appreciated your writing, and will miss your contributions about the full spectrum of reproductive health and rights. We need more voices like yours making the links between the rights and agency of birthing women and the rights and agency of women who wish not to birth! Thank you and best wishes for your work at Gates!

  • eleanor-bader

    Wow, big move. All best to you…

  • amie-newman

    Mary Beth, thanks for the thoughful words! I am so appreciative of all of the women here who share their insight about the connection between birthing rights & othe repro rights as well! It’s way past time for all of these issues to be clearly linked and discussed as the full spectrum of women’s health and rights, for sure.

  • emily-douglas

    It is daunting to try to put into words how much you affected my life and work, Amie. I came to RH Reality Check with a burgeoning interest in and commitment to reproductive justice, but it was you who fostered that spark, taught me a huge amount, showed me the full complexity and depth of the movement, and shared the excitement with me. You were an extraordinary mentor for my early working years. I am so grateful to you—and to all the fun we had together. Your work for and on behalf of RH Reality Check has always been so thoughtful and impassioned. RH Reality Check won’t be the same without you.

  • ewestley

    Amie, it was such a pleasure to work with you and to keep up (in a one-sided way) by reading your posts! Wishing you the best in your new endeavors.

  • amie-newman

    Thank you :). Your insight & energy & love for this work helps to inspire so many around you! It’s been such an honor watching you do what you do so well and I look forward to what the coming years bring!!

  • beenthere72

    Good luck to you, Amie!   I’m glad we were able to get connected elsewhere so I can keep up with your future work!

  • saltyc

    I forget all the hard work it takes to keep this site going, just as people forget the hard work it takes to defend reproductive rights. Thanks for reminding, you will be sorely  missed.

  • crowepps

    Thanks for your work here and your insights, and best of luck at your new position.  You’ll be sorely missed.

  • ack

    Thank you for all of the knowledge and insight you provided during your time here. While you will, as others have said, be missed, I’m glad for the foundation that will be your future home. They’re lucky to have an intelligent and dedicated individual on staff!


    Good luck!

  • purplemistydez

    Thank you and good luck.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Thank you Amie! Much LOVE. ~

  • plume-assassine

    Wow, good luck to you in your career! Thank you for all of the excellent articles!

  • ahunt

    My gratitude and best wishes, Amie. Please drop back in from time to time…just because we will be missing you muchly.

  • roznaomi

    Your beautiful and gracious letter of goodbye reminds me yet again how proud I am of you and how proud I am to be your mother.

  • ack

    As a daughter, I thank you for supporting yours.

  • droderi

    Even this goodbye post was an inspiring read, showing how communities and opportunities can expand, all starting with finding the “outlets” and building on them. And thanks for all your work connecting birth activists with the reproductive justice community. It is such a powerful alliance, and one that I hope keeps getting stronger.  Best of luck in your next step!


  • amie-newman

    Amazing words from so many of my favorite RH Reality Check folks!! (and my favorite mom :))! Thank you thank you thank you, everyone!!

  • arekushieru

    Just as she is, no doubt, proud to have a wonderful Mother such as yourself, as I am proud of mine.  Thank you for all that you did which allowed me to meet someone who has been (and will ever be, I’m sure) a staunch supporter of women, locally and globally!

  • arekushieru

    You’ll certainly be missed, Amie!  But, yes, do check back in on us once in awhile and let us know how your work with foundation is going!

  • amie-newman

    You all will be missed tremendously, as well! Which is why I’ll probably be checking in on the site frequently and joining you all in these incredible discussions. It’s been an honor to be a part of it all!!!