Monday, January 21, 2008

Mautner Project selects veteran lesbian feminist to head the women’s health organization
San Francisco – A veteran lesbian feminist was announced last week to head the Mautner Project, a national lesbian health organization.

Leslie J. Calman, Ph.D. has a bold vision for the nearly 20 year old lesbian health organization. Calman told the Washington Blade January 14 that her goals are to maintain the current programming, but that growth of the organization “is another priority.”

“We ought to be twice as big as we are,” Calman told the Blade. Financing women’s health, the Blade, reported is one of the areas of concern for the organization.

Calman also noted the lesbian health organization’s local presence in Washington, D.C. where the nearly half million dollar health organization is based. Mautner’s mission is to improve the health of lesbians and their families through advocacy, education, research, and direct service, which is funded by grants from the
Center for Disease Control as well as foundations and individual donors, according to the Blade.

“The Mautner Project’s evolution from a local health group that primarily supported lesbians with cancer to the national health organization for lesbians is a phenomenal testament to the depth and breadth of the work that has been completed,” said Dr. Spooner, Mautner Board Chair Dr. Linda Spooner and a practicing physician in Washington, D.C., in a January 14 news release.

“For this ‘go-to’ organization…we could not have made a finer choice for the position of executive director,” Spooner added.

Calman’s goal’s beyond maintaining the lesbian health organization’s current operations and growth is, she told the Blade, to debunk the myth that lesbians don’t need regular gynecological care and to combat discrimination in reproductive health so lesbians don’t feel ostracized.

“Isolation, stigma and the potential for discrimination have been major obstacles for lesbians seeking appropriate health care in the United States,” said Calman in the release. “I am grateful that The Mautner Project’s board of directors is giving me a chance to work on rectifying this issue and others for lesbians across the country.”

Calman comes to the Mautner Project from the
International Center for Research on Women where she was vice president for external relations, according to the release. ICRW is a $12 million women’s research, capacity building and advocacy organization to empower women, advance gender equality and fight poverty in the developing world, according to the organization’s Web site.

Prior to ICRW, according to the release, Calman was executive vice president of the National Organization for Women’s Legal and Education Defense Fund, now
Legal Momentum. She also authored two books and a number of articles on political movements and on women’s rights and was a political science and women’s studies professor at Barnard College in New York. She also served as director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Calman replaces Kathleen DeBold, who stepped down in April after seven years, citing a desire to pursue more hands-on work, reported the Blade. According to the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper DeBold made her decision during a three-month sabbatical volunteering with the
Montgomery County Refugee Center, helping people fill out citizenship forms and teaching classes in government and civics.

Calman lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner,
Jane Gruenebaum, and her 17-year old son, Ben Calman, according to the release.
Photo courtesy the Mautner Project

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