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July 22, 2020

BJP NYC 03: Sistas on the Rise: A History of Organizing Teen Parents in NYC with Leslie Grant Spann


Season 1 Episode 3 features an interview with Leslie Grant Spann. We discuss her three birth stories, and do a deep dive into the history of reproductive justice community organizing via Sistas on the Rise in the Bronx, New York City and nationwide with young parents in the early 2000s.

Leslie Grant Spann Bio:
Leslie Grant-Spann began her work in social justice as a 15-year-old-mother working with Sistas on the Rise in the South Bronx. Leslie organized other young mothers around  access to education and childcare in New York with intersections to the larger reproductive justice movement. Leslie has served in a number of leadership positions: Executive Director of Sistas on the Rise (2007-2011); Secretary to the Board of Directors for SisterSong (2007-2013); and as a member of the Standing in Our Power Leadership team (2013-present). Leslie is the Director of Conferences and Convenings for Race Forward. In this role, Leslie is the Executive Producer of the Facing Race National Conference: the largest multiracial racial justice conference in the United States. Leslie also manages the production of over two dozen in-person and virtual events for the organization annually. In 2019 Leslie founded 31st Event Productions LLC which supports organizations and businesses to produce unique and inclusive in-person and virtual experiences to drive mission and brand awareness.


References During the Episode:

  • Young Women United (now Bold Futures)
  • Martha Neilson Schools (closed in 2007. Learn more about the closure’s effect on Sistas on the Rise and young parents on this blog post on Radical Doula)
  • Organizations and projects in NYC that are no longer around but organized with Sistas on the Rise: Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective, Sister 2 Sister, Community Birthing Project

Questions to consider after the episode:
Leslie’s birth stories and history of reproductive justice organizing highlight some of the ways that multiple City agencies impact the health and well-being of parents and families. Consider: how do multiple systems and institutions impact health and families? Especially sexual and reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth. And how does this understanding impact how we organize communities for reproductive justice and birth justice?

Created and Hosted by Taja Lindley
Produced by Colored Girls Hustle
Music, Soundscape and Audio Engineering by Emma Alabaster

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For more information visit BirthJustice.nyc

This podcast is made possible, in part, by the Narrative Power Stipend - a grant funded by Forward Together for members of Echoing Ida.

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Leslie Grant-Spann Profile Photo

Leslie Grant-Spann

Former Exec. Director of Sistas on the Rise, Mother

Leslie Grant-Spann began her work in social justice as a 15-year-old-mother working with Sistas on the Rise in the South Bronx. Leslie organized other young mothers around access to education and childcare in New York with intersections to the larger reproductive justice movement.

Leslie has served in a number of leadership positions: Executive Director of Sistas on the Rise (2007-2011); Secretary to the Board of Directors for SisterSong (2007-2013); and as a member of the Standing in our Power Leadership team (2013-present). Leslie is the Director of Conferences and Convenings for Race Forward. In this role, Leslie is the Executive Producer of the Facing Race National Conference: the largest multiracial racial justice conference in the United States. Leslie also manages the production of over two dozen in-person and virtual events for the organization annually. In 2019 Leslie founded 31st Event Productions LLC which supports organizations and businesses to produce unique and inclusive in-person and virtual experiences to drive mission and brand awareness.