Alumni Spotlight: Nat Okey
School, grad year, major
Willamette University, 2002, Politics and Women’s Studies – Salem, OR
(Willamette rhymes with “dammit” “It’s Willamette, dammit”) 🙂
How were you involved with URGE?
In 1999 I co-founded Students for Choice at Willamette with another student in response to a need for clinic escorts. After a year I assumed solo leadership duties as we expanded from just clinic escorting to campus educational programs and other forms of activism. This got URGE’s attention (then Choice USA) and they asked us to affiliate with them as a chapter. Three years later in 2002, Kierra called me and asked me to join the Board of Directors. I groggily but enthusiastically accepted as she called at the unholy hour (for seniors working on their thesis) at 9:30am Pacific. I served on the Board from 2002-2005.
What do you do now and how have you brought a reproductive justice frame to the work you do?
Professionally, I work for Planned Parenthood Northern California supporting the Development team and agency leadership. I’m very fortunate that I work for an agency that prioritizes reproductive justice and reaches out to serve undocumented immigrants and provide hormone therapy for transgender individuals to name two examples.
In my free time in the past I’ve volunteered a lot as a clinic escort and Board member and activist with the DC Abortion Fund and as a practical support volunteer with ACCESS in San Francisco providing housing and transportation for women seeking abortion care at UCSF. Even in mythically epic pro-choice California’s Bay Area, reproductive justice is a constant work in progress.
I currently live in Oakland and regularly open up my apartment for homeless guests via the Transgender Housing Network and volunteer with the Transgender Law Center as reproductive justice also connects to so many other manifestations of injustice in need of rectification.
What skills or knowledge did you learn from URGE that you use in your current work/life?
URGE helped imbue in me a broader consciousness of reproductive justice issues and the concept of intersectionality where things like race, class, gender and sexual orientation and identity need to be addressed from the aristocrat’s statehouse dinner to the activist’s weekend workshop.
What are your top priorities in politics and/or reproductive justice?
Wondering why a Gloria Steinem Leadership Institute graduate was not promoted/touted online immediately following Barbara Boxer’s resignation announcement. Seriously, when someone like Senator Boxer retires the pro-choice Movement/Industry needs to have some warriors ready to fill the void. And there should be no rush to clear the field in a state like California. When not focused on the many iterations of that rant I’m working on replacing all of the Gideons Bibles in hotel rooms with Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. It will reap wonders some day.
Who inspires you?
PCDW (Pro-Choice Democratic Women) abortion fund volunteers. They’re dope.