Leadership Training Academy

Leadership Training Academy Fellows

The application period for the Class of 2015 is now closed. 

Purpose of the Academy

The Physicians for Reproductive Health Leadership Training Academy prepares physicians to become lifelong leaders in reproductive health advocacy. Through an intensive program, the Academy helps its Fellows develop and internalize the skills and attributes they need to be powerful, effective advocates for comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care.

Academy Highlights
  • Firsthand advocacy experience
  • Visits with lawmakers in state capitals and Washington, DC
  • In-person sessions and webinars
  • Opportunities to improve medical education and share best practices in reproductive and sexual health care with peers
  • On-camera media trainings
  • Chances to educate the public about contraception, abortion, STIs, and other aspects of sexual and reproductive health
  • Collaboration with physicians around the country and across specialties
  • Opportunities to build and strengthen coalitions between organizations
  • Guidance from experts in medicine, advocacy, leadership, and communications
Leadership Training Academy FellowWho Can Apply

The Leadership Training Academy is open to:

  1. Physicians entering the second year of a Fellowship in Family Planning (FPF), those in their first year of a Fellowship if they already have an MPH degree and prior approval from their direct supervisor, alumni of the Family Planning Fellowship, and directors of Ryan Residency Programs. The Academy program, including travel and lodging expenses, is available at no cost to current participants or alumni of the Family Planning Fellowship, and to Ryan Residency Directors through funds from a categorical grant.
  2. Practicing physicians or participants in fellowships other than Family Planning who are able to cover their own travel and lodging; the grant does not cover these expenses for this group of physicians. Also, these physicians are required to pay a $500 registration fee (includes training materials and meals.)

Note: Scholarship funds may be available to cover the expenses of one or more applicants who are not Family Planning Fellows.

In addition to meeting the requirements above, applicants should have already demonstrated great potential as leaders and worked to improve reproductive and sexual health care. Further, applicants should be ready, willing, and able to be confident, visible, and tenacious ambassadors for reproductive and sexual health.

Space in the Leadership Training Academy is limited. The program runs annually from September through June.


Physicians for Reproductive Health founded the Leadership Training Academy to foster future generations of self-driven physician leaders who will work throughout their careers to defend and advance comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care.

Leadership Training Academy Class of 2011

Physicians for Reproductive Health has been helping doctors become physician-advocates since its inception in 1992. Formalized in 2003, our leadership training program has graduated nine classes of doctors equipped to advance reproductive and sexual health care in their home institutions and beyond.


If you have questions about the Leadership Training Academy, please contact:

Libby Benedict
Director of Leadership Training Networks
Physicians for Reproductive Health
55 W. 39th Street, 10th floor
New York, NY 10018

Office: 646-649-9923
Cell: 415-990-6502

Related Posts:

Buffer Zones Critical to Protecting Patient Privacy and Safety

Today, in a unanimous ruling on McCullen v. Coakley, the United States Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ commonsense state law establishing buffer zones outside of reproductive health care clinics. As doctors who work at such clinics and who have witnessed the threats, intimidation, and harassment of anti-choice protesters, this ruling is profoundly disappointing.

Dr. Nancy Stanwood, our board chair, called the ruling "a blow to women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care," adding: "Buffer zones are a critical tool in providing privacy and protection to patients and staff at embattled clinics. It is highly disappointing that the court discounted the findings of the legislature and recommendations of law enforcement officers in Massachusetts who favored the buffer zone law, recognizing its effectiveness in maintaining public safety."

Leadership Training Academy fellow Dr. Shannon Connelly, who worked at a Boston clinic, said: "Having feared for my own safety in this environment, I could easily empathize with the patients who were reduced to tears because they were frightened by the intimidation tactics of the so-called sidewalk counselors."

Read more of their comments in our press release, which is available here.

2014 Leadership Training Academy Fellows: Why I Provide

March 10 is the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. March 10 is the day in 1993 when David Gunn, MD, was murdered by an anti-choice extremist. To honor the courageous doctors who provide this much-needed service and to fight the stigma surrounding this safe, legal medical care, members of our current Leadership Training Academy class share their stories of why they provide and why they support their colleagues who provide.

I provide abortions because I trust every woman to make the best reproductive health care decisions for herself and her family. The decision to become a parent is one of the most important decisions people make in their life. As a mother and an obstetrician-gynecologist, I don’t believe pregnancy or parenthood should be forced on anyone. Abortion is an important part of caring for women, because 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. It is a true privilege and honor to provide compassionate, high quality care to women throughout all stages of life.

Lisa Bayer, MD

Portland, OR

I provide abortions because I am a compassionate physician who respects the health and dignity of women and families. I provide abortions because I believe healthcare is a human right. I believe that safe, accessible comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, has the power to positively change lives and strengthen communities. I provide abortions because as a physician, a woman, a daughter, a partner and an aunt it is the right thing for me to do.

Erin Berry-Bibee, MD

Atlanta, GA

We live in a world that is glaringly unequal, and it is most unequal for women.

Until all women have unfettered access to contraception,

Until all women live free from violence in their relationships,

Until all women are truly valued in their communities,

Until all women have access to education and opportunity,

Until all women can experience pregnancy without fear and desperation,

Until all women can have healthy pregnancies,

Until all women are ready for the importance of motherhood,

Until we live in that perfect world, I will provide abortions.

Christy Boraas, MD, MPH

Pittsburgh, PA

I provide abortions because years ago someone provided one for me. Then, I was treated with gentleness and dignity. I knew I was in good hands. Now, I strive to provide the same high level of compassionate medical care for my patients.

Gillian Dean, MD, MPH

New York, NY

Providing abortions is and always will be an essential part of being a comprehensive reproductive health care provider. There will always be unwanted pregnancies, pregnancies with devastating fetal anomalies, and women too ill to carry pregnancies to term. There will always be birth control failure, reproductive coercion, and sexual assault. It is these difficult moments in a woman’s life when she needs high-quality and compassionate medical care the most. As an ob/gyn, it is my duty and privilege to be there for my patients through these difficult times.

Luu Ireland, MD, MPH

Los Angeles, CA

I provide because of the patients.  

Testimony of Dr. Colleen McNicholas in opposition to Missouri H.B. 1430 and H.B. 1307

No woman should have to endure due state interference with her decision to end a pregnancy. But that is what already happens in Missouri. The legislature should not further obstruct the private decision-making of women and their families. Lawmakers should defeat these harmful bills.

Download [PDF] 

Clinic Buffer Zones Keep Patients, Health Care Workers Safe

Our doctors have seen firsthand what can happen without these zones

New York, NY—On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case of McCullen v. Coakley. The petitioners in this case are challenging the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that makes it a crime for clinic protesters to remain on a public way within 35 feet of an entrance to a reproductive health care facility.

Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians) representatives expressed concern about the legal battle to dismantle Massachusetts reproductive health clinic buffer zones.

Physicians board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood:

“Although protesters and their supporters claim that this case is a First Amendment issue, it’s not. Buffer zones ensure that women and their health care providers can enter clinics safely, without fear of threats, intimidation, or violence. As physicians who provide comprehensive reproductive health care, my colleagues and I have witnessed firsthand what happens outside clinics when such protection is absent. Here are two of many stories that highlight the necessity of buffer zones.”

Physicians Leadership Training Academy Fellow Dr. Julie Johnston, who practices outside of Boston, Mass.:

“Abortion has been needlessly separated from other basic health care services and, therefore, clinics dedicated to providing reproductive health care are easily targeted by anti-abortion protesters. As a family doctor, I witnessed the scare tactics used by protesters before the current buffer zone law was enacted. Protesters dressed as the Grim Reaper shook scythes at patients. Others tried to physically impede access to clinic entrances. Our state’s buffer zone law ensures that Massachusetts women can receive legal and safe medical care in these clinics without having to make their way through hostile crowds.”

Former Leadership Training Academy Fellow Dr. Jen Russo, who worked in Pittsburgh, Penn., and has coauthored a study on clinic harassment and protesters:

“When I worked at a clinic in a city without a buffer zone, I walked a gauntlet of protesters who tried to verbally abuse and intimidate me and my patients. Not far from the clinic where I worked, a volunteer was asked by a protester, ‘How do you prefer to die? By knife or by bullet?’ I treated countless women who felt threatened and traumatized by the protesters’ loud and disruptive presence.”

“As state governments become increasingly hostile to abortion care through onerous restrictions that have no medical purpose, women who need abortions are singled out for punishment. Why wouldn’t protesters who harass and intimidate patients and clinic employees follow suit? It is especially at this time when anti-choice voices are so loud that we need to ensure protection from harassment, not roll back protections for women seeking abortions.”