La’Tasha D. Mayes Founder and Executive Director
New Voices for Reproductive Justice 16 Years in Social Justice
OW: What has been your greatest inspiration?
LM: My greatest inspiration has been the legacy of my ancestors and witnessing the power and potential of Black women and girls. We always lead and we always resist all forms of oppression – especially race and gender – and we not only do it for ourselves, we do it for all of humanity. I am inspired by the in nite depth of our vision, resilience, and genius as our contribution to the world.
OW: When did you first become aware of your purpose?
LM: I rst became aware of my purpose in high school. I went to a Catholic school outside of Philadelphia and there was a profound focus on women and our role as social justice advocates. This began my path as a justice seeker and from West Philadelphia to the University of Pittsburgh. I committed myself to being a force for justice – especially the Human Rights of Women of Color. This led me to the Reproductive Justice Movement. After much re ection on my life and my work, my purpose is to create new worlds of possibilities, inspire greatness in others, and liberate Black women and girls.
OW: What was the best thing that you have ever done, which got you where you are today?
LM: The best thing I’ve ever done was to follow my passion when I was in college. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; however, I also earned a Women’s Studies Certificate and a minor in Political Science. While I was in college, I also had to decide whether I would continue on the very lucrative path to being an energy lobbyist or staying in Pittsburgh as a Freshman Peer Counselor the summer before my senior year. Choosing to stay in Pittsburgh led me to meet one of the co-founders of New Voices and the rest is herstory. I have been blessed to lead New Voices from a local grassroots organization in Pittsburgh to a multi-state organization in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
OW: What would you tell your younger self?
LM: I would tell my younger self that this life is too short and this work for Reproductive Justice is a marathon, not a sprint. Preserving yourself through intentional self-care and a focus on complete health and well- being will support you through a lifetime of leadership. You cannot save anyone else unless you save yourself first.