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May 10, 2012

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan to Depart in January 2013

Keenan to stay through 2012 election cycle as board conducts search for successor

Washington, D.C. – The chairs of the boards of directors of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation announced today that President Nancy Keenan has chosen not to renew her contract, which expires at the end of December this year. Keenan, who took the reins of the organization in December 2004, will continue her strong and successful leadership at the helm, including the organization's electoral efforts, until the completion of her contract to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

"When Nancy took over as our organization's leader nearly eight years ago, she brought tremendous energy and a unique perspective as a former elected official from a Western state," said Janet Denlinger, chair of the board of directors for NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Nancy inspired Americans, from lawmakers to everyday citizens, to proudly proclaim their pro-choice views and act on these values. Nancy directed efforts that reshaped the debate over reproductive rights, produced tremendous electoral wins for choice, and defeated attacks from anti-choice opponents. As a result, we are a stronger organization positioned to lead the fight for reproductive rights now and into the future."

"Over the course of Nancy's tenure, Americans have seen the intensity of our opponents, as we fought a hostile Bush administration and now must counter politicians waging a War on Women at all levels of government," said Rosalyn Levy Jonas, chair of the board of directors for NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. "Nancy assembled a fantastic team and, in partnership with our state affiliates and our strong activist base, elevated NARAL as the leader in fighting attacks on choice. We will build on these achievements, as we continue to protect safe, legal abortion and other reproductive-health care for our daughters, granddaughters, and future generations."

"Leading NARAL Pro-Choice America for nearly eight years has been a privilege," Keenan said. "In building a great organization, there is no single defining action, no single election cycle, nor one leader that makes it successful. It is a combination of the talented and dedicated staff, state affiliates, member activists, and boards. These individuals work every day to protect women's reproductive rights.  I am so very proud to have worked side by side with all of them."

Keenan's work to reshape the debate on reproductive rights and protect women's access to safe, legal abortion has gained her significant attention. In 2006, she made Washingtonian Magazine's list of the top 100 most powerful women in Washington, D.C. and the Detroit News described her as both "forthright and politically savvy." The American Prospect described her work to launch a values-based pro-choice message as "a cunning strategy" that allows "pro-choice advocates to define the terms of the debate."

Under Keenan's leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America's political program helped produce enormous gains for pro-choice forces in Congress, including the combined net gain of 44 pro-choice seats in the House and eight new pro-choice senators in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. NARAL Pro-Choice America also was the first pro-choice political organization to endorse President Barack Obama's campaign. In its 2008 post-election analysis, National Journal ranked NARAL Pro-Choice America second among the nation's top 21 political organizations for its impressive win rate among endorsed congressional candidates in hotly contested races. After the 2010 midterm elections, which were dominated by the economy, resulted in significant setbacks for progressives, Keenan prepared her organization to be the voice of opposition to an extreme anti-choice agenda unfolding in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures. In 2011 alone, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its state affiliates channeled more than 1.1 million messages to federal and state officials in opposition to attacks on choice.

The board chairs have appointed a search committee, made up of board members from across the country, to begin the process of identifying a new president.

"Nancy Keenan is committed to seeing us through this transition and ensuring that the future of NARAL Pro-Choice America remains strong and vibrant," Denlinger said. "We have every confidence that we will find and engage a new leader by the end of this year."

"In the next eight months, I will focus on helping pro-choice candidates win elections," Keenan said. "In addition, I will work with my colleagues as we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. We have built an innovative initiative to engage and recruit even more members of the Millennial Generation to the pro-choice cause. We did this by listening and learning from younger people about their experiences and ideas for protecting choice in the next 40 years and beyond."

Read about NARAL Pro-Choice America's key accomplishments under Nancy Keenan's leadership >>

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