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Passion for Politics, Progress, and Making Change

PPMM is thrilled to welcome our new Vice President of Public Affairs Lauren Babb, a seasoned community leader and chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls who was recently named by Women’s Foundation California as one of “4 Black Policy Movers & Shakers You Should Know.”  Lauren is returning to Planned Parenthood, where she once worked in Public Affairs at PP of Northern California. We caught up with Lauren, to learn more about her and how she’s excited to hit the ground running at PPMM.

PPMM: What led you to be so committed to this work and such an effective change-maker in politics?

Lauren Babb: Well, I grew up in Detroit, and my grandfather, who had recently retired from the police department, was my primary caregiver while my parents were at work. He decided he wanted to study government in his retirement, and he and I would talk about politics from about as far back as I can remember – all about what he was learning.

He was my mentor and really inspired me. Even now, every time I see him we have a political debate. We recently had a two-hour discussion about the debt ceiling!

PPMM: What are some of the projects you’re most proud of from the work you’ve done in the past couple of years as fellow at the Women’s Policy Institute and when you were in the Office of Legislation and Regulations at California’s Department of Developmental Services?

Lauren: When I was at Women’s Policy Institute, I helped pass SB 1237, a bill that says California (certified) midwives do not need “physician supervision.” I learned a lot about what midwives do, and it’s pretty amazing.

One win I’m pretty proud of was, for the first time in history, getting California Developmental Services to take a stand in support of one piece of legislation, rather than being neutral. This bill, SB 639, made it illegal to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.  Developmental Services coming out in favor of it added a layer of advocacy in a bureaucratic space where advocacy is not the norm.

PPMM: What is one of the main things that brought you back to reproductive rights work here at PPMM?

Lauren: What’s happening to people in Texas, with SB 8 pretty much stopping abortion-access, is a huge concern for me. My goddaughter, who’s 2, lives in Texas, and it’s very upsetting to me to know that as she grows up, she’ll have a much different reality than I do. Closer to home, our friends and folks in the Central Valley are already facing a different reality right now than in other parts of California.

It got me so fired up to focus right now on access. We millennials, who always have had these rights, have to put on our marching shoes and do the work! You don’t have to be a “policy-wonky” type of person to make a difference, and I want to really spread that message. It’s about showing up, continuing to tell the story, and focusing on who’s in leadership and how they represent us. It’s critical that we continue to be at the table.

PPMM: Really inspiring! In closing, can you tell us a little something about yourself that a lot of people might not know about you?

Lauren: I’m an avid gardener. I’m pretty good at it, but, I have to tell you, the hot Sacramento weather is really ruining my tomatoes! It brings me so much joy and peace to grow something from the ground up and then enjoy it with friends and family.

We can’t wait to see what you grow at PPMM, Lauren!