Guttmacher Institute Selects Kelly Baden as Vice President for Public Policy

Kelly Baden

The Guttmacher Institute today announced that Kelly Baden (she/her), a leader in reproductive rights who brings more than 20 years of experience in the movement, has been selected to serve as the Institute’s new Vice President for Public Policy, following a competitive and extensive search. Ms. Baden, who has an extensive track record of building collaborative and effective teams, will join the staff on April 4. She succeeds Jonathan Wittenberg, who has been serving in this role as interim since Heather Boonstra retired in December of 2022. Mr. Wittenberg will continue to serve as the Institute’s Executive Vice President. 

"It’s with great enthusiasm that we welcome Kelly Baden to the Guttmacher Institute and to our Executive Leadership Team. At a time of unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom, Ms. Baden’s rich and varied experience as a leader in our movement is especially valuable to our team. Kelly’s visionary work to build the capacity of policymakers to champion reproductive rights, her ability to mobilize resources to support a vision, and her values-based approach to building teams that are equipped to serve our movement will be a tremendous asset to the Institute,” says Dr. Herminia Palacio, President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute. 

“The Guttmacher Institute’s policy expertise has grounded my work over the course of my career, and it is a true honor to join them at such an essential time,” says Ms. Baden. "This work is both urgent and generational, and as we begin recreating a world that centers sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Institute's profound mission will be catalytic."  

Ms. Baden will lead the Institute’s Public Policy team, which works to advance evidence-based policies at the state, national and global levels. Among its many critical roles, the team tracks key policy trends; publishes policy analyses; educates members of Congress, state legislators and other audiences about the importance of defending reproductive health and rights; and conducts a range of advocacy activities to encourage evidence-based policy change.  

Since its founding more than 50 years ago, the Institute has been at the forefront of many landmark policy initiatives, from the passage of legislation that created the Title X national family planning program to the enactment of state and federal guarantees of contraceptive coverage and the passage of laws safeguarding the right to abortion care. Guttmacher has played a key role in tracking state policies on a wide range of sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the past year the Institute’s policy team has played a key role in documenting, in real time, the changes in state laws and policies that have followed the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. In the last three years, the Institute has been working to build equitable relationships with advocates working to advance sound policies in their states, applying principles of equitable partnership that the organization has developed in its work in low- and middle-income countries. At the same time, the Institute has built a robust global policy program and has been working with a wide range of partners—at the national, regional and global levels—to implement the visionary policy agenda articulated by the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission.     

Ms. Baden comes to the Guttmacher Institute after two decades in the reproductive rights and health movement. Most recently, she served as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Services at the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), where she founded the country’s only cross-state cohort of nearly 500 state legislators committed to reproductive freedom, while building the organization’s first reproductive rights strategy and team. While there, Ms. Baden piloted innovative advocacy programs, including convening delegations of state legislators to visit El Salvador in 2019 to understand the devastating impact of abortion bans and then Mexico in 2022 to learn from the powerful Green Wave through authentic collaborations and partnerships.  

Before her time at SiX, Ms. Baden ran the state policy team at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she served as Director of State Advocacy and Interim Senior Director of US Policy and Advocacy. Prior to that, Ms. Baden was the Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. She has also worked at Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey, Physicians for Reproductive Health and EMILY's List.  

In addition, Ms. Baden has a history of championing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in building organizational culture and teams and centers her power- and movement-building analysis in racial and economic justice. 

“Abortion bans and restrictions cannot be disentangled from white supremacy, and the de-siloing of abortion rights work is part of our urgent call to action,” says Ms. Baden.   

Since 2014, Ms. Baden has served on the Board of Directors for URGE (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity) and previously served on the board of the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund. Ms. Baden received her BA from The College of New Jersey.  

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