Press Releases 2004

Kate Michelman, Albert Thomas and Cheryl Francisconi Join Board of Catholics for a Free Choice

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New members bring political savvy, scientific integrity, and passion for helping women to leading group of Catholics dedicated to women’s reproductive health and rights.

Washington, DC—Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) announced today that it has added three new members to its board of directors who bring a wealth of experience, passion and commitment to the fight for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. The new board members are: Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and one of the foremost advocates for reproductive rights in America; Dr. Albert Thomas, director of obstetrical services at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City; and, Cheryl Francisconi, an expert in nonprofit management and grant making and consultant to the Packard Foundation’s organizational effectiveness program.

In welcoming the new board members, Frances Kissling, president of CFFC stated: “The challenges that face Catholics who are prochoice are enormous. Meeting those challenges requires political savvy, a commitment to scientific integrity and a passion for helping women. Kate Michelman, Albert Thomas and Cheryl Francisconi have demonstrated those qualities over and over again. We are pleased to welcome them to the board of Catholics for a Free Choice.”

Michelman has served as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America for 18 years, leading the organization to prominence as the nation’s premier reproductive rights groups. Under her leadership, the group transformed the political debate and positioned a woman’s freedom to choose as a fundamental American liberty. Michelman will become president emeritus of NARAL Pro-Choice America following the April 25, 2004, March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC.

“I welcome the opportunity to help CFFC in its groundbreaking work on articulating the moral and ethical values that underlie the political commitment to Roe v. Wade in America,” stated Michelman. “I have known and admired this organization’s extraordinary commitment to women over the past 30 years. Given the vicious attacks on the good faith of pro-choice Catholic legislators and candidates, CFFC is more important than ever, not only in America but in the global struggle for women’s reproductive health and rights.”

Albert George Thomas, MD, is the director of obstetrical services and director of family planning services at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Thomas, a graduate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive services at the medical school and is a sought after lecturer on topics of contraception, pregnancy, abortion, and issues related to adolescent pregnancy, among others. He is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and as a contributor to books, and has made numerous presentations to national and international meetings. Dr. Thomas is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, and serves as the chair of the Committee on Medical Economics for the New York County Medical Society.

Cheryl Francisconi is committed to supporting the role of nonprofit organizations to make changes in society. She has experience as development assistant at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, a disability rights advocacy organization, and at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where she most recently served as programs operations manager. At Packard, she managed the administrative function of the population program, worked closely with consultants managing programs overseas and traveled extensively to monitor programs in a variety of developing countries.

Francisconi holds a BA in psychology from Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio, and is currently pursuing a masters degree in both social welfare and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She has also studied theology and has served as a liturgist for many years. In addition to her studies, she is currently serving as a consultant to the Packard Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness program and to KPMG’s global grants program. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a strong advocate of women’s reproductive rights.

Other members of the CFFC board of directors include: leading Catholic theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, a professor of the Graduate Theological Union at the Pacific School of Religion; Sheila Briggs, a theologian and professor at the University of Southern California; and, Chair of the board Marysa Navarro-Aranguren, a professor of Latin American history at Dartmouth College.

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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.