URGE Remembers Darshan Khalsa, Immediate Past Board Chair and Previous Staffer – “An Absolute Force”Scholarship Fund Established in Darshan’s Honor for Young Reproductive Justice Leaders of Color
December 14, 2021
Today we remember the life and legacy of a beloved member of the URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity community, Darshan Khalsa (she/her), who passed away December 13, 2021.
Darshan’s history with URGE ran deep. She was a member of URGE’s Board of Directors for six years (2014 – 2020), culminating in her service as Board Chair. From 2008 – 2011, under URGE’s previous name – Choice USA, Darshan was on staff as Deputy Director. Her contributions to building URGE and supporting our staff, Board, and members past and present are significant. Simply put, URGE would not exist without her leadership. She helped keep URGE stable and solvent during the 2008 recession when non-profits large and small were closing all over the country. She also oversaw a successful executive transition and URGE’s significant surge in growth during her tenure as Board Chair. But beyond these measurable successes, Darshan’s sly sense of humor, thoughtful justice analysis, and kind and open heart will be what many remember for years to come.
The following tributes from her URGE colleagues exemplify the effect Darshan had on those around her:
“Darshan had so much wisdom about movement building, organizing, fundraising, all because she loved people and knew how to connect and move them. She helped to save URGE during the recession when many young people’s organizations closed, she led URGE through a time of Executive transition, and she helped me find my place as a leader here and launch us into the next evolution of our work. So much of her legacy is in the people she loved, the connections she made, the friendships she forged.”
-Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director, URGE
“Darshan brought so much thoughtfulness, love, and intention to all her work with URGE. She did the same in her personal relationships with others within the organization. She spent much of her adult life in the trenches with URGE – holding space when things were hard in the world and the movement, and always finding a way to make those periods feel less heavy. Personally, she encouraged me to not be afraid of my own voice, to ask hard questions, and to always keep my purpose in mind. I feel blessed to have known Darshan, and URGE is better because of her fervent presence and legacy.”
-Niara Stitt, URGE Board Chair
“So many benefited from Darshan’s life’s work— those of us who were fortunate to know her most of all. Darshan was a shining light, a treasured friend who was funny and dependable and thoroughly authentic, and a truly remarkable woman. The feminist movement is lessened by her passing, as are our lives. We will remember her in our work, in our joy, and especially in our love.”
-Heidi Gerbracht, URGE Board Vice Chair
“Darshan’s brilliance, compassion, and kindness are what makes her very special. She has left an indelible mark on me, URGE, and the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement that will last forever. I am a better person and a better advocate because of her. Darshan – Thanks for all that you taught us. We are committed to building from your legacy. You are immensely loved.”
-Fabiola Carrión, URGE Board Treasurer
“Darshan was an absolute force. She taught me so much about board service, leadership, and relationships as a core component of Reproductive Justice. I won’t forget bonding over sharing pictures of our baby niblings with each other in between discussing major movement moments and opportunities. She was a light and will be missed.”
-Kelly Baden, URGE Board Member At-Large
“I knew Darshan for over 15 years. I knew her as a fellow Board member at the Third Wave Foundation, co-worker at Choice USA, and finally as my Board Chair at URGE. Dashan was gentle and kind, but unrelenting in her commitment to these organizations that she loved and to the leadership of young people. I truly would not be where I am today were it not for Darshan’s belief in me.”
-Kai Gurley, Deputy Director of Resource Development, URGE
In another show of Darshan’s generous spirit and commitment to future Reproductive Justice leaders, it was her wish that people contribute to URGE in her memory. Thus, to honor Darshan’s ongoing legacy, URGE has established the Darshan Khalsa Reproductive Justice Scholarship Fund to support young leaders of color in achieving their dreams. To contribute, please donate at this link. For more information, contact Abiha Zakariya (she/her), Senior Manager of Individual Giving and Alumni Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, as a tribute to Darshan’s enduring legacy at URGE, the Board unanimously named Darshan as an honorary permanent member of the Board. The scholarship fund and this appointment will mean Darshan’s story will continue to live on.