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Heather Booth  

American Civil Rights Activist, Feminist & Political Strategist

Heather Booth is one of the leading strategists about progressive issue and electoral campaigns.

She has been an organizer starting in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam War and women’s movements of the 1960s and continuing through today. She created JANE, an underground abortion service started before Roe.

She was the founding Director and is now President of the Midwest Academy, training social change leaders and organizers. She has been involved in political campaigns and was the Training Director of the Democratic National Committee. In 2000, she was the Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, which helped to increase African American election turnout by nearly 2 million voters. She was the lead consultant, directing the founding of the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2005.

In 2008, Booth was the director of the Health Care Campaign for the AFL-CIO. In 2009, she directed the campaign passing President Obama’s first budget. In 2010, she was the founding director of Americans for Financial Reform, fighting to regulate the financial industry. She was the National Coordinator for the coalition around marriage equality and the 2013 Supreme Court decision. She was strategic advisor to the Alliance for Citizenship (the largest coalition of the immigration reform campaign). She was Field Director for Americans for Tax Fairness to stop the tax cuts for millionaires that may lead to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and education.

She is a member of the consulting group Democracy Partners.

Speech Topics

Advancing Reproductive Freedom: The Story of JANE, an Underground Abortion Service

Heather Booth created an underground abortion service before Roe v. Wade, called JANE (because at the time three people talking about providing an abortion was a conspiracy to commit a felony). Between 1965 and 1973, the women of JANE themselves performed 11,000 abortions. There is a documentary about this called The Janes, that was short listed for an Academy Award. This talk is often accompanied by a screening of the film (or showing the trailer).

Jewish Social Justice

In US history, Jewish and Social Justice were for many years were so intertwined as to be almost synonymous. Then there was a nearly 30 year lacunae or hiatus. There is now a flourishing of Jewish social justice. Heather Booth will describe the social forces at work in this change and her own involvement in this transformation and underscore what a precious legacy this is, not to be taken for granted and how it must be cultivated.

If We Organize, We Can Change the World!

We are on a knife’s edge about the options for the future—freedom/democracy or tyranny/authoritarian rule. But we can make the future we want to see, if we organize with love at the center of our actions. We have seen this before. Speaking from personal history, Booth will recount various struggles that have led to victories, often against the odds.

  • From the civil rights movement—when terror reigned in many areas, but Civil Rights legislation became the law of the land;
  • From women’s reproductive freedom struggle—organizing the underground women’s network called JANE, providing 11,000 abortions before Roe became the law (and now the subject of an HBO documentary “The Janes,” and a narrative film “Call Jane” starring Signourney Weaver and Elizabeth Banks)
  • Engaging in a variety of other issues from health care, marriage equality, immigration, financial reform, tax fairness, to negotiating on prescription drug prices and preserving Social Security

This session will have time for conversation, Q&A, with applications for what we can do today. (This session will have a short power point that will need tech set up.)


The abortion underground and what lessons can be learned from the Jane Collective
In the likelihood that Roe v. Wade is overturned, Heather Booth, the founder of the Jane Collective, has two pieces of advice: "We need to come together. We need to organize."

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