- The Indian American diversity advocate was named to lead the nonprofit in November 2021, becoming the first woman of color in that role.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, headed by Indian American diversity advocate Mini Timmaraju, has been renamed Reproductive Freedom for All. The change comes 54 years after the founding of the the nation’s oldest membership-based abortion rights group, according to a Sept. 21 announcement.
According to a press release issued by the organization, the change came “after a vote from our organization’s membership and after years of NARAL research and discussions with people in communities across the country found that people think of abortion rights and access as a matter of freedom.” NARAL’s research has shown that “reproductive freedom is a core value for people across the country—across religion, race, and age. With this change, our organization boldly forges ahead toward a future where reproductive freedom is a reality for everybody.”
The New York Times noted that “along with the new name, the group plans to increase its focus on state organizing and to adopt a broader approach, joining causes like eliminating the Senate filibuster, supporting voting rights and expanding the Supreme Court.”
In a statement, Timmaraju, the first woman of color to lead the nonprofit noted that “the fight for abortion rights and access is at a critical moment.” As “the coalition of Americans who support reproductive freedom growing by the day,” she said the nonprofit’s leadership “identified a clearer and more inclusive path forward to mobilize this new and expanded base of support.” Reproductive Freedom for All is “a demand, a call to action, and a vision of the future we’re fighting for,” she said. “Together, we’re going to make that vision come true.”
She told The New York Times that “pro-choice does not resonate with the moderate, younger and male voters who have become more engaged since the Supreme Court ended the nationwide right to abortion last year.” She said the old name also “failed to reflect the work of Black and Hispanic women long on the front lines of the fight for abortion access.” While “NARAL is incredibly resonant for the political world,” she said the group is “not necessarily in the business anymore of just winning political opinion within elected officials and policymakers.” They are now in “a much bigger fight for the heart and soul of the American people and those are folks who are brand-new to the abortion debate.”
The Times traced the group’s history and the various name changes it has gone through. “This is the fourth name change for the organization, which started as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1969,” the Times noted. In 1973, after Roe was decided, it became the National Abortion Rights Action League. “Reproductive Rights was added to its name in 1993,” the report said. The group became NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2013, “a change that coincided with a multimillion-dollar effort to make abortion a central topic in the 2004 presidential election.”
A first-generation immigrant from India, Timmaraju most recently served as an executive director on the Diversity and Inclusion team for Comcast NBCUniversal, based out of their corporate headquarters in Philadelphia. She was previously on the external affairs team where she served as a liaison between Comcast and external stakeholders including advocacy organizations, political organizations, and public policy groups.
She served as an advisor for the Biden administration on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. She was the national women’s vote director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She also served as a chief of staff to Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and as a district director for former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas.)
During Clinton’s campaign, she served as Hillary for America’s National Women’s Vote Director, leading the historic campaign’s planning and implementation of its strategy to maximize women’s participation in the election. This involved engaging with a variety of stakeholders—members of Congress, donors, advocacy groups, volunteers, and the media— to mobilize grassroots support.
Her other professional experiences include various roles with Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), including director of PPFA’s Office of the President. During her early career, she held a number of leadership positions in state and local political organizations in South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Texas and New Delhi, India.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Berkeley and completed her J.D. at the University of Houston Law Center where she was the recipient of the Joan Garfinkle Glantz Award for Outstanding Work in the Field of Civil Rights and the Class of 1999 Distinguished Service Award. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.