SAT. NOV 12, at 3PM | “Teaching Choice: Health, Sex and Agency,” featuring Serra Sippel, President
Left to right: Caitlin Beckwith-Ferguson, Kierra Johnson, Serra Sippel, and Chergai Gao Rittenberg
This weekend, Mosaic Theater Company hosted an important and compelling post-show discussion following the performance of Milk Like Sugar. Panelists included Serra Sippel, the President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity; Kierra Johnson, the Executive Director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, Chergia Gao Rittenberg, a masters student at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and it was moderated by Mosaic's Literary Assistant Caitlin Beckwith-Ferguson.
The panelists discussed hope, agency, race, class and gender in Milk Like Sugar, and each spoke about how they are working to improve opportunities for young women like the ones in the play. They spoke about improving sex education in schools, giving women access to birth control and allowing them to have reproductive freedom, advocating for women's rights, and the public policy that shapes all of this in our current society.
Serra Sippel is the president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) and leads the organization's advocacy efforts to advance gender equality by promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally. Serra is highly regarded for her leadership in policy advocacy in the U.S. and around the world.
A respected thought leader in global health and reproductive rights communities, Serra is often sought out for her expertise on HIV prevention for women and girls; U.S. support for abortion access for women raped in conflict; access to family planning; and the role that successful policy advocacy plays in holding the U.S. government accountable to its commitments to gender equality and human rights. She has contributed to peer-reviewed journals including Global Public Health and has been quoted in media outlets including The New York Times,Washington Post, and The Guardian. A widely-recognized advocate of women’s rights in the U.S. and globally, Serra has spoken at international conferences and is the author of numerous articles on gender equality, women’s health and human rights, policy advocacy, and women’s leadership.
Serra is a member of the International Steering Committee for the Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme, a member of the National Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS Advisory Committee, and served as a member of the official U.S. Delegation to the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS.
Prior to joining CHANGE, she was the international program director at Catholics for Choice, advancing the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls around the world and at the United Nations during the 5-, 10- and 15-year reviews of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994) and Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995). Serra holds a master's degree in religion from the Earlham School of Religion, with an emphasis on peace and justice. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio. She resides in Washington D.C. with her husband, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), and two dogs.
Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (Formerly Choice USA), heads the leading pro-choice organization working to mobilize and provide ongoing support for the diverse, upcoming generation of leaders who promote and protect reproductive choice both now and in the future. With 17 years of experience in the field, Kierra is a leader in the reproductive justice and progressive movements. She has lifted up the value of regional and cross-movement collaborations to foster youth leadership development that will strengthen the pro-choice progressive base in crucial communities in the United States. She serves on the Groundswell Fund’s Board of Directors and on the National LGBTQ Taskforce National Action Committee.
Chergai Gao Rittenberg hails from many places but currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a second year Master’s student pursuing Health Education and Health Communication. Her passion is people and this has taken her on a four year journey teaching sex education to middle and high school students in DC and Baltimore city. In addition, she is a co-coordinator for the student-led Sex Education group, CASE (Community Adolescent Sex Education), for which she builds partnerships with schools and trains volunteer teachers.