No one really says goodbye to PP, its always some variation of see you later.
It feels good to be home. In 2011, I walked into the Bedford Heights Health Center of Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio. I was 26-ish with a fro-hawk, a thrift store dress, and a small tattoo nestled in each wrist. I was feeling every bit of cautiously edgy determined not to withhold parts of my identity while searching for a new endeavor. I was interviewing for a Community Health Educator, and was swiftly offered the position. I was also offered a job at Girl Scouts, but I chose PP. I grew up in the *coughs* late 1900s (as the Gen Z’s put it), and I felt the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Choosing Planned Parenthood was easy because I felt called to do tangible work that reflected the world I lived in. I had already been the person handing out condoms on my very catholic college campus, I was already a volunteer for the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. I knew I had the foundation. I needed the knowledge. And that’s exactly what I got and so much more. I loved the four years I spent working at Planned Parenthood. The friendships and colleagues I collected during my time there have endured in such a beautiful way. I provided outreach and testing for thousands of Ohioans and really became a bonafide advocate and organizer. As we all know, working for any organization has its challenges. But as Notzake said “bein alive & bein a woman* & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma I haven’t conquered yet.” There’s no pretty way to say that racism and implicit bias made work challenging during my 21 year nonprofit career, Planned Parenthood included. I had to defend an organization that was founded with a complicated history, while simultaneously experiencing pay inequity, micro aggressions, invalidations, lack of trust, poached ideas and so much more. It hurt. So why would I return? Ain’t that hustling backwards? Well, similar to LeBron, I came back to win. I truly believe in the work of Planned Parenthood and I dream of a PP that can and will thrive while creating a space where equity is woven into the fabric of the work. As Chief Equity & Learning Officer, all of my skills can converge for one goal, to win. And if you know anything about Planned Parenthood, every win looks different. I always felt like LeBron’s time in Miami was his version of going to college. A rites of passage, if you will. My path was obtaining a Master’s in Positive Organizational Development & Change from Case Western Reserve University. After doing so much work in DEI and rarely feeling like I was making a difference, it clicked to me that the path towards creating inclusive spaces would be from an organizational development perspective. Organizational Development is all about appealing to the sensibilities of business; which is typically their bottom line. Cause if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. But if teams don’t feel safe and celebrated, dollars don’t get made. I came back to Planned Parenthood to dream of what is possible, with a lot more tattoos and a lot less hair. Work is relationship. Its not just the tasks you complete, its the connection and collaboration along the way. I confronted the things i needed to heal through, looking the discomfort of it all in the face. The hurt the organizations have the capacity to inflict can send you to therapy and keep you there if you’re not careful. It is tedious work to forgive while not negating the impact of the harm. I’ve done enough dreaming of the what was possible with an equitable organization. I had to wake up and get to work. I’m taking a chance on Planned Parenthood, and I’m grateful Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio is taking a chance on me.
Eris Eady is a Black, Non-Binary, Bisexual, writer & artist operating under the auspice of Black Womanhood & the glory it brings.
As an advocate, executive coach and organizational development practitioner with 20+ years of nonprofit experience; Eris is equipping businesses, orgs, teams, families & individuals with the tools needed to foster identity and cultivate equitably inclusive practices.
(*) Eris' identity as non binary person does not negate their very real experience of black womanhood, it informs it.