FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Musa Springer, ARC-Southeast Media & Communications Manager,
We are thrilled to announce that Alexia Rice-Henry and Angel Whaley have officially stepped into the roles of Co-Executive Directors here at ARC-Southeast, continuing our tradition of leaning into bold, Black leadership!
Strategic and Decisive Leadership Experience
Alexia Rice-Henry is a familiar face at ARC-Southeast, first joining us as Director of Operations in 2021, serving tirelessly for two years to keep our ship running before transitioning to this new role as Co-Executive Director. Alexia brings over 15 years of experience fiercely advocating for LGBTQ+ communities, birthing justice, and abortion access. She previously served as Development Director at Affinity Community Services in Chicago and helped shift the organizational model at the Transformative Justice Law Project, showcasing her commitment to transformative change.
“It’s been an honor to walk alongside our staff and usher ARC into this post-Roe landscape over the past year,” said Alexia. “Despite the treacherous terrain that we have been forced to navigate, sometimes daily, I’m encouraged by ARC’s amazing staff, the funds that we collaborate with, and our (ready for anything) volunteers, who all help to forge a new path forward together that continues to subvert the oppressive conditions that are placed upon us.”
According to Alexia, everything in her life to this point has prepared her for this moment. “I have always been called to reproductive health and birthing journeys. I went to college intending to be a nurse midwife, and that didn’t pan out for various reasons,” she says. “But being active in reproductive health and space for birthing folks always pulled on me, which is why I became a certified lactation specialist while professionally working in social justice spaces. The combination of my experience uplifting marginalized communities and deep affinity with birthing folks has positioned me to think critically about reproductive justice and meeting acute needs at this pivotal time.”
Angel Whaley joins us with over 13 years of experience in education, nonprofits, and serving as a birth doula, recognizing that the pathway to liberation for all lies in centering the historically marginalized. She previously led as Interim CEO of Public Education Partners in Greenville, where she led successful fundraising strategies, orchestrated local and regional coalitions, managed events, volunteers, and programs, and secured support from a variety of sectors, including individual, foundation, and corporate donors. As a certified doula, Angel is committed to supporting people through transformative birthing experiences and through making informed decisions about their bodies and births without judgment.
“My role as a doula aligns seamlessly with ARC-Southeast’s mission and radical love ethos,” said Angel. “I am dedicated to centering the safety of people of color in all reproductive healthcare spaces, and passionate about helping parents feel present in their bodies, connected to their breath, and informed about what to expect so that they can thrive through pregnancy and the early childhood years. Our collective liberation is bound together, so I’m thrilled to collaborate with Alexia and uplift marginalized voices.”
Complementary Skills, Collective Responsibility
We’ve strategically moved to a Co-Executive Director model, believing collective leadership brings ample advantages in turbulent times like we’re experiencing across the South. By sharing organizational stewardship, Alexia and Angel aim to strengthen our resilience, spur innovation, and expand capacity to continue providing holistic mutual aid and solidarity with marginalized Southern communities facing abortion restrictions.
These two outstanding leaders have a well-rounded and diverse range of experiences to lean on. Angel’s commitment to care work is exemplified by her work as a classroom teacher and her assistance to families in their journey into parenthood. How we are treated and whether we have full control over our life experiences and medical decisions deeply matters, says Angel, and these moments leave an indelible mark on you.
For Alexia, managing organizational budgets, human resources, grant reports, and the fiscal health of organizations — the “nuts and bolts” that keep the lights on for organizations — is at the heart of what she loves to do. Alexia’s experience in grants management ranges from large private donor grants to state and federal grants, and she’s also led organizational annual auditing processes and fiscal forecasting.
As Co-EDs, Alexia and Angel have outlined a number of key priorities centered on strengthening community ties, developing leadership, and meeting urgent needs:
- Embarking on an extensive ‘listening tour’ across the Southeast, connecting with diverse partners including impacted callers, clinics, fellow funds, and organizations, to chart responsive paths and action grounded in material realities, not assumptions.
- Strengthening our relationships with clinics, including the doctors, doulas, midwives and essential workers who provide critical reproductive healthcare that enable access. Collaborating meaningfully with these often unheard frontline groups will be a vital bedrock of our work.
- Developing robust leadership pipelines among ARC-Southeast staff, investing in the next generation of Southern RJ leaders more through expanding professional growth and mentorship.
- Promoting an internal culture of radical love, joy, care and horizontal leadership that breaks down nonprofit hierarchies and empowers each voice.
- Expanding existing ARC-Southeast’s organizing and outreach programs that center political education to mobilize and continue to educate our supporters in a broad range of methods, and strengthening our ability to provide direct resources through initiatives like Plan B: Southeast.
- Making sure that ARC-Southeast’s values are an example of reproductive justice in practice, not just in name. This means ensuring a commitment to pay equity, operationalizing ways to value the labor of every one of our workers, creating a horizontal and democratic workplace that puts our value of ‘radical love’ into practice, and being a positive example in the RJ field.
“I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the Black women who pioneered the recognition of our particular issues and difficulties by introducing the term ‘reproductive justice,'” said Angel. “As I enter the ARC family, I do so with an open heart and a mindset firmly rooted in our shared history of resilience and struggle to not only survive, but to thrive. For so long, too many people have been denied basic human rights. I am determined to thrive, and I genuinely wish the same for my child, as well as for every person.”
There’s so much more that these two leaders have to say and share with the world, and this is only the beginning. All of us at ARC-Southeast would agree that “excited” is an understatement for how we feel about this new era in our organization’s history, and we embrace change as much as we embrace honoring radical tradition. We know that to have Alexia and Angel co-stewarding this new chapter focused on reproductive justice means growth and fearlessness, and together they will breathe fresh energy into the fight against abortion bans in the South.