A long-time reproductive rights activist, Marlene is well known nationally and internationally as a writer, lecturer, and advocate for reproductive freedom. She was founding president of the National Network of Abortion Funds and served on the board of the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights for over a decade. She continues to work on abortion advocacy internationally with Women Help Women, and she is on the board of OBOS (Our Bodies, Ourselves) and the Abortion Rights Fund of Western MA. As Faculty Director, Marlene leads CLPP's academic programming, teaching and student advising, and co-directs the Five College Certificate in Reproductive Rights, Health and Justice.; her courses include "The Politics of the Abortion Debate" and "Reproductive Rights: Domestic and International Perspectives." She edited From Abortion to Reproductive Freedom: Transforming a Movement and co-authored Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, and co-authored the chapter on Abortion in several editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She was the Interim President of Hampshire College in 2010-2011.
Loretta J. Ross is a Visiting Associate Professor at Hampshire College in Women's Studies for the 2017-2018 academic year teaching "White Supremacy in the Age of Trump." She was a co-founder and the National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective from 2005-2012, a network founded in 1997 of women of color and allied organizations that organize women of color in the reproductive justice movement. She is one of the creators of the term "Reproductive Justice" coined by African American women in 1994 following the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt.
She is a nationally-recognized trainer on using the transformative power of Reproductive Justice to build a Human Rights movement that includes everyone, and an expert on women’s issues, hate groups, racism and intolerance, human rights, and violence against women. Her work focuses on the intersectionality of social justice issues and how this affects social change and service delivery in all movements. Ms. Ross was National Co-Director of the April 25, 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.. She has also worked as the founder and executive director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) and as the Program Research Director at the Center for Democratic Renewal/National Anti-Klan Network. She launched the Women of Color Program for the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the 1980s, and was one of the first African American women to direct a rape crisis center in the 1970s.
She is a co-author of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, written with Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, and Elena Gutiérrez, and published by South End Press in 2004, and author of “The Color of Choice” chapter in Incite! Women of Color Against Violence published in 2006. She has also written extensively on the history of African American women and reproductive justice activism.
She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree awarded in 2003 from Arcadia University and a second honorary doctorate degree awarded from Smith College in 2013.