story by Jade Wong | photo courtesy of Abortion Care Network
CHOICES sees a need in patients and is not afraid to fill that gap in service. CHOICES has really occupied that spot at the front of the pack in justice and access in healthcare.
This past year has been one for the books and that is certainly true for CHOICES—a nonprofit comprehensive reproductive and sexual healthcare clinic. Along with moving into a new, innovative building, CHOICES has also welcomed a new Executive Director, Jennifer Pepper.
Pepper is a longtime Memphian with a long history of being dedicated to nonprofit work and advocating for reproductive and sexual healthcare. As early as middle school, Pepper has been engaged with this work, which she carried through her educational experiences at Rhodes College. At Rhodes College, Pepper utilized her opportunities within the Anthropology and Sociology department to design an HIV prevention curriculum as her senior project. This is just a part of her story and the beginning of the almost 20 years that she has professionally advocated for reproductive and sexual freedom.
Through CHOICES’ new building, located at 1203 Poplar Avenue, we can see their vision of a “world where sexual and reproductive healthcare is recognized as an essential human right” further come to light through their growth. Through this new space and Pepper’s leadership we can see CHOICES’ values–diversity is imperative, dare to innovate, lead by example, respect individual choices, leverage collective genius, think big, be kind, do good—further expand their impact. Pepper sees many of her personal values reflected in those of CHOICES and the work that she does as a bisexual woman that leads the first healthcare clinic of its kind in the region. Pepper leads a life that values diverse minds as “diverse teams are stronger, and this has been proven by the research. Especially with CHOICES trying to change the world” Pepper realizes that “all the voices have to be at the table” and she believes that “it is a privilege to lead an organization that shares these values so closely.”
It is easy to see the level of dedication that Pepper has to CHOICES, as she has held various positions within the nonprofit and has returned to continue her work after taking breaks—one of which was to pursue her Master of Business. Over the years, Pepper has been drawn back to CHOICES because of the innovative nature of the community. “CHOICES sees a need in patients and is not afraid to fill that gap in service. CHOICES has really occupied that spot at the front of the pack in justice and access in healthcare,” and Pepper wants to live her life in the lead—fitting for her leadership qualities and style. This is clear through her dedication to continuous improvement in the organization. For example, a few years ago CHOICES implemented a living wage of a $15 an hour minimum and Pepper realizes that as more nonprofits catch up “there is another step forward we need to take in driving the needle forward” in providing living wages. CHOICES’ innovative nature and daring advocacy is one of the reasons Pepper loves the organization.
“Bodily autonomy is really important and one of the most sacred human rights that we are all granted. Whether it’s your choice to not be pregnant, to be pregnant, choice to affirm your gender, choice to have safe sex, ability to treat STIs, ability to prevent pregnancies, these are all choices that people get to make for themselves, and there is no other way to do that than to be patient centered.” This patient centered approach is easy to see as CHOICES continues to grow and mobilize their services to prioritize patient care for those in Memphis and beyond.
CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
1203 Poplar Avenue Memphis, TN 38104