Melanie Zurek has spent a decade as the Executive Director of Provide, formerly the Abortion Access Project. In her time there, she has worked to reduce the stigma of abortion and to increase the availability of women’s health services in low access states in the South and Midwest. While at Provide, she has led the organization to develop important opportunities and resources for health and social service professionals, so that they can play their role in helping women get the care they need.
Melanie is driven by the individual woman’s experience of being able to access care and be supported. Growing up in a gay family during a time, the early 80’s, before gay families were understood or recognized, before gay marriage or kids coming out in schools, she remembers acutely what it felt like to face discomfort from counselors, health care providers, and other who were supposed to be able to help. She saw firsthand the deep importance of there being safe spaces for socially uncomfortable topics, and dedicated herself to creating these.
An educator and writer by training, Melanie’s career began teaching autobiographical writing workshops in New York City battered and homeless women’s shelters and has included work with rape crisis centers, Native American tribes, and adjudicated minors. Prior to Provide, Melanie served as the Education Outreach and Training Manager for the Family Planning Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. At the Department of Health, she managed the program’s sexual and reproductive health education initiatives as well as provided training, outreach and community education resources to contracted family planning provider agencies across the state.
Melanie has also served as the Coordinator of Professional Education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. There she provided training in comprehensive sexuality education to parents, educators, and health professionals. She has consulted on numerous health communications, curriculum development and professional training projects with private and government agencies and served on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund. She received her B.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York and her Masters in Education from Harvard University.