The End of an Era for Our Field Team
Written by Rebecca Harrington, Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach | Published: March 21, 2022
For the past several years, Lauren Salmiery and Lindsay Apperson were strong fixtures on our Field and Outreach team. Both began working with us as fellows—Lauren in December 2015 and Lindsay in July 2016—and both were dedicated, strong advocates through two presidential elections, a midterm election, the harrowing Trump years, and the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In May 2021, Lindsay wrapped up her time with us before beginning graduate school at the Harvard Kennedy School. In January 2022, after she’d graduated with her Master of Public Administration from the George Washington University, Lauren took the next step in her career as a health care consultant at Aptive Resources.
Throughout her tenure at Population Connection, Lauren served as Field Fellow, Field Coordinator, National Field Manager, National Field Director, and Advocacy Specialist. She steadfastly organized for global reproductive health and family planning through one entire (terrible) presidential administration and the start of another (much better) one. Lindsay went from Field Fellow to Field Coordinator to National Field Manager during her time with us.
When Lauren and Lindsay started working at Population Connection, we were advocating for the Global Democracy Promotion Act, an earlier iteration of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, which was first introduced in 2017. They were both integral to the founding of our #Fight4HER campaign at the start of the Trump administration and were key to our engagement with other progressive organizations in our full-on resistance effort.
At the start of the Biden administration, our efforts shifted from resistance and defense to pushing forward the various pieces of a bold reproductive health agenda we had been wanting to enact for years. Lauren notes that it was great to see progressive policy changes happening and that they were the “fodder” that kept her, and she believes others, in the fight.
She reflects that:
In the moment, it was really frustrating to see stalemates in Congress and to not be able to carry through with our advocacy actions because of the constantly changing priorities on the congressional agenda—whether in response to an insurrection or a pandemic. There always seemed to be something to prevent us from carrying through the action we wanted to do. If you had only worked at Population Connection for six months, you might say, “This process is so frustrating!” But having worked there for six years, it was frustrating in the moment and rewarding in the long run.
Lindsay agrees, noting that everything she learned about the “sometimes infuriating” policy process that affects real people’s everyday lives has been useful to her grad school experience and has “really shaped [her] own theory of change.”
Lauren is most proud of the work she did to help grow Capitol Hill Days. Her first year organizing the event, in 2016, 173 activists attended; by 2019, our last in-person CHD event, we had grown the program to nearly 350 people. It was satisfying for her to watch the program develop and thrive, and to see the base of wonderful, dedicated volunteers grow year to year.
Lindsay is proudest of the work of the #Fight4HER activists and volunteers she managed:
It was an incredible experience to work with hundreds of volunteers from across the country who mobilized nearly 60,000 people to take action to repeal the Global Gag Rule. Working with so many volunteers who were passionate about reproductive rights and justice was a humbling experience. … Working with volunteers on the #Fight4HER campaign was so rewarding, especially developing them into leaders and seeing them go on to do such wonderful, intersectional organizing work. … I learned how to recruit people into a movement, center them in our work, and continue to develop them as leaders to sustain our efforts, throughout both demoralizing losses and gratifying wins.
When asked about her favorite person she met in the field, Lauren immediately says Melvine Ouyo. She describes how much she enjoyed working with such a “passionate, driven colleague” and how much fun she had traveling with Melvine in Kenya. She remembers the boat tour they went on at Lake Victoria, the “most incredible” fresh fish they ate at a local spot, and how Melvine invited Lauren to stay at her home when visiting Kenya, which Lauren did. Lauren describes Melvine as “so adventurous, a great spirit, really passionate about her family. She’s one of my favorite people in the world.”
When asked the same question, Lindsay responds:
It’s hard not to say Melvine! But I have to shout out Stephani Gonzalez-Espinosa, who was one of our ‘tippiest’ top volunteers at Arizona State University (ASU). I worked with her for four years, so it was really rewarding to see her grow from her time as a freshman all the way until her graduation! She’s doing really incredible work now at Poder in Action, an organization that works to “disrupt and dismantle unjust systems and determine a liberated future as people of color in Arizona.”
When asked to sum up her experience of working at Population Connection, Lindsay says:
In two words: gratitude and exhaustion. I am so grateful for all of the rewarding experiences—the relationships I built with staff, volunteers, and advocates, the wins we fought hard for and won, the community we built and sustained throughout my five years working there. But the work was exhausting. Reproductive rights were, and still are, under near-constant attack. It’s so important—but often hard—to find small wins when you’re working on such an uphill battle. Working in a space with so much uncertainty is exhausting, but at the same time so rewarding.
We are so grateful to Lauren and Lindsay for their dedicated service to the international reproductive health and rights effort. We wish them well in their current and future adventures, and can’t wait to see the change they’ll make in the world.