Director, Reproductive Rights
Elise (she/they) is a state policy expert and reproductive rights and justice movement leader committed to winning a more just world through legislation, organizing, and culture change. They are particularly energized by the current opportunity for state legislatures to pursue policy agendas that center racial equity and reproductive justice, a framework invented by Black women in 1994 that demands the right to not have children, to have children, and the right to parent children in safe and sustainable communities. Elise’s career has spanned dental care access, queer and trans rights, Medicaid policy, and municipal elections, but her primary focus over the past 15 years has been reproductive health, rights, and justice. Before joining SiX, Elise taught and conducted award-winning reproductive rights and justice research at the University of Kansas. Between 2013 and 2017, Elise served as the Director of Public Policy and Organizing for Kansas and Mid-Missouri at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, where they lobbied the Kansas Legislature, directed regional legislative, organizing, and electoral work, and represented Planned Parenthood to local and national media. Outside of SiX, Elise is a PhD candidate completing their dissertation about abortion stigma in state legislatures at the University of Kansas. She is also the Vice President of the Kansas Abortion Fund and the past President of the URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity board of directors. Elise has been quoted in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rewire News, and many Kansan publications. You can follow Elise on Twitter at @elisehiggins and the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council at @SiXRepro.