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Melanie Zurek
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Melanie Zurek has spent a decade as the Executive Director of Provide, formerly the Abortion Access Project. In her time there, she has worked to reduce the stigma of abortion and to increase the availability of women’s health services in low access states in the South and Midwest. While at Provide, she has led the organization to develop important opportunities and resources for health and social service professionals, so that they can play their role in helping women get the care they need.

Melanie is driven by the individual woman’s experience of being able to access care and be supported. Growing up in a gay family during a time, the early 80’s, before gay families were understood or recognized, before gay marriage or kids coming out in schools, she remembers acutely what it felt like to face discomfort from counselors, health care providers, and other who were supposed to be able to help. She saw firsthand the deep importance of there being safe spaces for socially uncomfortable topics, and dedicated herself to creating these.

An educator and writer by training, Melanie’s career began teaching autobiographical writing workshops in New York City battered and homeless women’s shelters and has included work with rape crisis centers, Native American tribes, and adjudicated minors. Prior to Provide, Melanie served as the Education Outreach and Training Manager for the Family Planning Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. At the Department of Health, she managed the program’s sexual and reproductive health education initiatives as well as provided training, outreach and community education resources to contracted family planning provider agencies across the state.

Melanie has also served as the Coordinator of Professional Education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. There she provided training in comprehensive sexuality education to parents, educators, and health professionals. She has consulted on numerous health communications, curriculum development and professional training projects with private and government agencies and served on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund. She received her B.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York and her Masters in Education from Harvard University.

Entries by Melanie Zurek

Introducing Remote Justice

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 1:08 PM

Community-based efforts are the center of social justice work, but for social justice organizations, even those of us with large field-based teams, the default setting continues to be the office. At Provide, our widespread use of field-based staff has led us to reconsider the structure and location of all members...

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Reproductive Health on National Rural Health Day

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 9:23 AM

Over the past few years, and especially within the last few months, women have faced a barrage of challenges to their reproductive freedoms. Women seeking abortion -- and the providers and advocates who strive to support them -- deal with a continually changing landscape. We can't always predict what the...

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Abortion Work in Tough States

(1) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 12:03 PM

At Provide, we know how isolating it can be to do work on abortion. Though we are part of a broad and diverse field of outstanding colleagues, any of us whose work connects us to issues that are surrounded by stigma, silence and, at times, hostility knows that resources can be...

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Social Work Month: All People Matter

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 12:36 PM

March is Social Work Month and here at Provide, we are celebrating the incredible role social workers play in helping people navigate life's needs and challenges and in particular, in supporting women's health and reproductive justice for all people. "All People Matter" is this year's Social Work Month theme, to...

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Public Health: Why Facts Alone Don't Change Opinions

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 4:33 PM

I knew we were on to something.

For much of 2013, our team at Provide explored ideas about how we could move people on the issue of abortion in deeply conservative and seemingly entrenched places. We considered that the facts are on our side -- again and again abortion has...

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Abortion and Mental Health: Connected by Stigma

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2014 | 7:17 AM

Settling into work this morning, a headline concerning some mental health research out of Penn State College of Medicine caught my eye: "Rural Primary Care Physicians Offer Insight Into Rural Women's Health Care." The study grabbed my attention not only as an opportunity to learn more about the...

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Overdose Prevention and Abortion: What's the Connection?

(0) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 1:02 PM

Written with Wyndi Anderson.

When Provide shifted our focus to rural communities and the South we organized ourselves around one central question: what does it take to move the issue of abortion in hard places? Our explorations into this question led us to believe that we can reach new audiences...

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National Rural Health Day and Abortion Access

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2013 | 4:23 PM

This week, clinic closures in Texas have drawn media and the attention of the reproductive health, rights and justice communities to rural women's circumstances relating to accessing abortion. This attention and backlash against the closures has spurred an inspiring wave of grassroots action to help women reach those abortion providers...

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Talk to Her: Everyone Has a Role in Abortion Access

(4) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 6:05 PM

Abortion access is a difficult topic in this country, one that's often overwhelmed by talking about legislation and politics rather than its role as part of women's basic healthcare. Although scarcity of abortion providers is a large problem, an even larger issue is the widening disparity in access along lines...

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