For immediate release
NEW YORK — Today, Pregnancy Justice announced that Lourdes A. Rivera will be its new president.
Rivera is a seasoned nonprofit executive in law, advocacy, and philanthropy, bringing more than 30 years of experience as a recognized leader in reproductive rights, health, and justice. Motivated by the injustices of her mother’s generation — where one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterilized without informed consent — and by growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, a community affected by the so-called “war on drugs,” Rivera has dedicated her life’s work to advancing human rights with a strong racial and social justice lens.
“I have dedicated my career to advocating for health rights and reproductive justice, fully aware of the pressing importance of this work. It is with profound excitement and deep humility that I embrace the opportunity to lead Pregnancy Justice at such a significant moment in history,” Rivera said. “Working alongside an exceptional board, a stellar team, and committed partners, we will break barriers, inspire progress, and create a lasting legacy of justice. I am ready for this challenge and eager to forge ahead with unwavering dedication.”
As president, Rivera will build on Pregnancy Justice’s visionary mission: to ensure that no one loses their rights because of pregnancy by advocating for and defending people charged with pregnancy-related crimes and other rights violations. Under Rivera’s leadership, Pregnancy Justice will combat escalating threats since the fall of Roe v. Wade. This includes advocating for the rights, dignity, and full personhood of all pregnant people, cultivating deeper strategic partnerships, and ensuring that the powerful voices of those with the most at stake are at the table.
Rivera steps into this leadership role following founder Lynn M. Paltrow’s announcement last year that she would be stepping down as Pregnancy Justice’s executive director. Dana Sussman has served as acting executive director since May 2022 and will remain in a prominent senior leadership role when Rivera joins the organization in September.
“I am thrilled that Lourdes Rivera will be Pregnancy Justice’s new president,” said Paltrow. “Over many years and in many roles, she has long supported the organization and helped to advance its mission. From her earliest days as a legal intern in reproductive rights to her trailblazing philanthropic work advancing reproductive justice, she has been a vital colleague and ally. I am totally confident in Lourdes’ ability to lead Pregnancy Justice and excited to see the new energy, ideas, and relationships she will bring to the next phase of the organization’s life and work.”
“We are elated to welcome Lourdes Rivera as the new president of Pregnancy Justice. Her exceptional qualifications and passion for social justice make her the perfect fit to lead this essential work on behalf of pregnant people in this country,” said Sally Burns, chair of Pregnancy Justice’s board of directors. “Working alongside our board, dedicated staff, and passionate community, Lourdes will lead with wisdom, empathy, and an unwavering commitment to justice.”
Rivera most recently served as senior vice president of the U.S. Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights since 2017, where she led the organization’s efforts to challenge and block unprecedented, hostile state and federal policies and develop the Center’s U.S. region’s proactive strategic vision for the future of reproductive and bodily autonomy. Under her leadership, the U.S. program grew more than 50 percent across its litigation, policy, and advocacy teams to focus on abortion, maternal health, and assisted reproduction.
“Congratulations to Pregnancy Justice on the appointment of Lourdes Rivera as the organization’s president,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Her decades of experience in reproductive health, rights, and justice includes six years during which we were fortunate at the Center for Reproductive Rights to have her at the helm of our U.S program. She was undaunted in leading our response to the unrelenting attack on reproductive rights during the Trump administration and the Supreme Court legal battles over Roe v. Wade. Lourdes is a fierce advocate for every person’s right to have access to, and decision-making over, the full range of reproductive health care. Her leadership is grounded in her personal experience and deep compassion, and I look forward to continuing our work together in the years ahead.”
Prior to the Center, Rivera worked as a senior program officer at the Ford Foundation, where she developed and implemented a U.S. and global sexual and reproductive health and rights initiative, prioritizing support and millions of investment dollars in state-based, women of color-led, and Global South-based organizations. This initiative included an investment strategy to ensure the inclusion of women’s and reproductive health in the Affordable Care Act, resulting in coverage of contraception and other women’s preventive health care without co-payments and guaranteed coverage of maternity care.
“Lourdes Rivera has dedicated her career to fighting for human rights and reproductive justice,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “This is work that demands sustained effort, and Lourdes’ unwavering determination to protect and preserve the dignity of all people is exactly what’s needed in this critical time in our history.”
As a grantmaker, Rivera has a strong track record of supporting funds for reproductive justice and women of color-led organizations. She co-founded and supported the growth of the Groundswell Fund, which has invested in and built the capacity of national and state-based reproductive and birthing justice organizations around the country. As a former board member of Funders for Reproductive Equity, Rivera collaborated with peer grantmakers to invest in women of color-led reproductive justice organizations. Her commitment to racial and gender equity has been steadfast as a co-founder and former board member of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and a former member of the Management Circle of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.
“I am thrilled that Lourdes Rivera will be the new president at Pregnancy Justice,” said Laura Jiménez, executive director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. “She is a leader with the experience, heart, skills, and vision needed to advance their work to protect the rights of pregnant people across the country. She will be an asset to the organization and the larger reproductive justice movement in our focus on achieving reproductive justice for all.”
“Very few leadership transitions from a founder are successful, but Pregnancy Justice has gotten it precisely right! Congratulations, Lourdes,” said Loretta Ross, a co-founder of the reproductive justice movement.
Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2006, Rivera served as a managing attorney at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and specialized in Medicaid, managed care, and women’s and children’s health. She created NHeLP’s Initiative to Promote Access to Reproductive Health Care for Low-Income Women, which she directed for more than 10 years. Prior to NHeLP, she worked in Washington, D.C., as a senior associate with the Children’s Defense Fund, Health Division, and as a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy fellow with the National Women’s Law Center, where she co-led a women in prison Project at the Lorton Virginia Minimum Security Annex.
“The Latina Institute team is absolutely thrilled that Lourdes Rivera will be the new president of Pregnancy Justice! Lourdes has been a strong voice and tireless champion for reproductive justice and a steadfast ally in this work,” said Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. “We know that Lourdes will drive the mission of Pregnancy Justice with the critical passion for centering those most impacted by injustice and uplifting their lived experiences and voices. We are thrilled to work together with Lourdes and the team at Pregnancy Justice to achieve real, lasting dignity and justice for all.”
“Lourdes is a shining example of what it means to lead within the reproductive justice space and her appointment as president comes during such a critical time for the movement,” said Teresa C. Younger, president and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women. “I know her vision, voice, and long-time commitment to human rights and securing peoples’ bodily autonomy will advance gender and racial equity for all. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Lourdes and Pregnancy Justice.”
Pregnancy Justice works to ensure that no one loses their rights because of their capacity for pregnancy or pregnancy outcome, focusing on people who are most at risk of state control and criminalization: those who are low-income, of color, or use drugs.