On Friday, Yamani Hernandez steps into the role of executive director at the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF). In that position, she will lead almost 100 nonprofits nationwide that help people fund their abortion procedures and offer other types of assistance. The 37-year-old Chicago native recently chatted with RH Reality Check about her work to build a broad human rights movement that lives up to its inclusive values, her unconventional professional trajectory, and the people who inspired and stoked her activism.
RH Reality Check: Given the near-constant efforts to restrict reproductive rights in this country, now is a difficult time to take the helm of a national organization that works exclusively on abortion. But you did. Why?
Yamani Hernandez: I took the helm of NNAF now because there is such tremendous opportunity. I spent a large part of my time [as past director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health or ICAH] trying to create a base. At NNAF, with nearly 100 funds—grassroot funds that are mostly volunteer-run—there’s a base built in to celebrate, support, and mobilize.