Nancy Keenan

President, NARAL

Nancy Keenan began her tenure as president of NARAL
Pro-Choice America in December 2004. Committed to working on behalf of America’s pro-choice majority, Nancy took the reigns of the organization pledging to protect and defend the American values of freedom, privacy and personal responsibility. As an accomplished elected official and a lifelong supporter of a woman’s right to choose, Nancy has demonstrated her ability to leverage the power of America’s pro-choice majority to influence the debate regarding reproductive health issues from Congress to state legislatures to the media. In just over a year, Nancy has successfully worked with pro-choice lawmakers to enact commonsense legislation that respects Americans’ privacy. Nancy is also responsible for launching the Prevention First, a values—focused initiative encouraging
lawmakers to focus on commonsense ways to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion. In February 2005, Nancy issued a challenge to President Bush and his allies who oppose abortion to join the organization in supporting efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies through medically accurate sex education, birth control, including the “morning-after” pill, and
improved family-planning services. This ongoing effort has established Nancy as a well-respected leader in the movement, causing conservative Time magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan to write, “pro-choice abortion activists [are] getting smarter about their strategy.”

Nancy’s work to reshape the debate on reproductive rights has gained her significant attention. Recently recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the top 100 most powerful women in Washington, DC, Nancy is regarded in Washington and across the country as the leading advocate
for a woman’s personal freedom. The Detroit News described her as both “forthright and politically savvy,” noting that she, among other pro-choice leaders, is responsible for “honing a message about American values of personal responsibility, freedom and privacy” described as “a new stance and a realistic one.”

The American Prospect described Nancy’s approach to the debate on choice as “a cunning strategy” that allows “pro-choice advocates to define the terms of the debate.” Nationally syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman wrote that “after years of playing defense, NARAL has gone on the offense.”

Before coming to NARAL Pro-Choice America, Nancy served as a Montana state legislator and State
Superintendent of Public Instruction and ran a strong campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. Nancy’s commitment to public service was shaped early in life as one of five children born into an Irish-Catholic family in Anaconda, Montana, a small copper smelter town in the western part of this “red” state. Nancy earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana State University and a master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of Montana. Before seeking elected office, Nancy taught children with disabilities in her hometown. Nancy Keenan is a frequent commentator on reproductive health issues. Her list of appearances includes NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, The Brit Hume Report on FOX, CNN and NPR.