Meet Laura: I’m a Colorado native who now calls Montana home. I’ve dedicated my career to nonprofit work, with a particular passion for women’s reproductive rights and girls’ education. I believe these two things – access to sexual healthcare and access to education – can shift the cycle of poverty, particularly for women. I work as the Development Director for The Traveling School in Bozeman, a program that empowers young women through international education. When I’m not working or at board meetings, I love to spend time in the mountains and on the rivers of Montana skiing, running, fishing, and camping with my husband, dog, and friends.

When did you join the BC board and why?

I joined the Bridgercare Board of Directors in the spring of 2012. I have always been a proponent of women’s reproductive health and found this a wonderful opportunity to engage in that conversation, and in the Bozeman community. Since I can remember, I’ve been interested in social justice and the inequalities that exist in society, with a particular interest in women’s reproductive rights. This in part led me to pursue an education in Sociology from Pitzer College, a member of The Claremont Colleges in sunny southern California. At Pitzer, I dug deeper into these issues, and realized how central reproductive health care is to everyone, but particularly to young women, minorities, populations of color, and folks from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  I believe that when women have control of their reproductive health, they have control of their lives and are more likely to pursue an education, hold a career, and lead healthier and happier lives. For teenagers and young women, affordable health care and access to education is essential for breaking the cycle of poverty. I joined the Bridgercare board so that I could be a part of this conversation, and serve an organization that provides care and promotes change in my community.

Why do you think Bridgercare’s work is so important, esp right now?

We are in such a pivotal time in our country, and are having difficult but important conversations about healthcare and women’s rights. Bridgercare has been essential to South Central Montana for decades, and now the organization is poised to serve more patients, educate more teens, and provide more affordable services to those who need them.

What do you wish more people knew about Bridgercare?

I wish people realized that Bridgercare and the services it provides is not and should not be controversial. Bridgercare provides health care that should be a right for everyone in our community, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background.  Sexual healthcare, particularly for women, has been politicized, creating barriers to healthcare. These barriers are harder for certain populations to overcome, which increases inequality in our community. If we can change the narrative around family planning – that it’s fundamental to everyone’s life – then we will have a healthier community.

What is your favorite part about being on the board?

It has been rewarding to serve on the board of directors because I feel like I am a part of making a tangible difference for the organization, and the patients we serve. I have particularly enjoyed supporting the capital campaign that is currently wrapping up. It has been rewarding to watch the project from start to finish, and it is exciting that Bridgercare now has its own space that is professional, has higher capacity, and is more financially stable for the organization.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?

Mountain goat – I love being above treeline in The Rocky Mountains skiing, running, hiking, and soaking up the thin mountain air.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that you can share with us?

It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act. (Dalai Lama)