Rest in Power: Katie Early, Long-Time Champion for Reproductive Justice

Katie Early, Ipas’ longest-serving employee, helped put Ipas on the global stage as a bold advocate for abortion access.

Katie Early speaks at Ipas’ 40th anniversary celebration in 2013. (Courtesy of Ipas)

Katie Early, Ipas’ longest-serving employee, died on June 26, surrounded by loved ones. Early’s extraordinary leadership and vision helped shape Ipas programs, fundraising, workplace culture—as well as Ipas’ visibility on the global stage as a bold advocate for abortion access.  

Early, second from left, joined Ipas in 1980. (Courtesy of Ipas)

She joined Ipas in 1980 and went on to serve in several key leadership roles for more than 30 years, before retiring in 2019 in the role of senior director of development. 

“Katie’s visionary leadership saw Ipas through decades of innovation as we fought at the local, national and global levels to raise awareness that abortion access is a human right,” said Anu Kumar, Ipas president and CEO. “Her tenure at Ipas really tracked the evolution of the global abortion rights movement, in which Ipas was instrumental—and Katie’s devotion and strategic guidance was crucial to that success.” 

Anu Kumar, president of Ipas; Katie Early; and Kathryn Andersen, Ipas’ chief scientific and technical officer, in Rwanda in 2018. (Courtesy of Ipas)

When Early first joined Ipas, the word ‘abortion’ was barely mentioned in the fields of family planning and women’s health due to abortion stigma and gender inequity in politics worldwide. By the time Early retired, a robust global movement for abortion access was gaining momentum and achieving historic law change in countries around the world.

Rest in power, Katie Early.

Read Ipas’ full tribute to Early here.

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Ipas is an international nonprofit working with partners around the world to advance reproductive justice by expanding access to abortion and contraception.