Exhibit: Women Who Dared
BiographiesMultimediaBy CityAbout WWD Jewish Gender Activism
What She Said
  Laurie Schwab Zabin
  Repoductive Health Activist and Researcher
  Baltimore WWD Event 2002
  Born in 1926
  Conducted groundbreaking research in adolescent sexual behavior and developed pregnancy prevention programs
Biography  up to top

Dr. Laurie Schwab Zabin was born in 1926 and raised in New York City. After attending a Planned Parenthood meeting in 1951 she volunteered for a local branch. Over the next twenty years, Zabin served the Maryland office, most notably as public relations coordinator for a campaign to make Baltimore the first city that allowed social workers to refer clients for family planning. The success of the program garnered much interest and earned Zabin a number of positions on the national board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America including the first Information and Education Committee, the first Public Affairs Committee, and the first International Committee.

In 1966, Zabin was hired to establish and direct a Community Action Agency Neighborhood Family Planning Center in Baltimore; the first community run organization of its kind. In 1974, she joined the Board of Directors of the newly formed Alan Guttmacher Institute, an independent research, education and policy-making body in reproductive rights and health. That same year she became the Acting Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Maryland. For her many years of varied service in Maryland, she was awarded the Margaret Sanger Award in 1977.

After more than a decade of successful work as an administrator, Zabin enrolled in Johns Hopkins University (JHU) for a Ph.D. in Population Dynamics in the School of Public Health. Her research thesis focused on adolescents, highlighting that young women were most at-risk for an unwanted pregnancy in their first month of sexual activity. She was awarded her PhD in 1979 and gained a position in the JHU School of Medicine in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. She accepted a primary appointment in the Department of Population Dynamics while retaining this position at the School of Medicine.

In 1999, Zabin accepted the position of the Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. This position, with a total of $22,000,000 in grants, has taken Zabin all over the world, working in conjunction with Ministries of Health, family planning professionals and academics to create successful policies in family planning and health systems.

Throughout her work of over fifty years, Zabin has used her expertise as a community activist and organizer, an educator and researcher, as well as her understanding of the national and international scene for the benefit of community policy-making in the field of reproductive health and population dynamics.

What She Said  up to top
It would be very hard for me to separate my whole moral compass from what I take from the history of the Jewish people. ...More 
Certainly not deeply identified [as Jews] but very, very committedly conscious of it. Always it was a matter of pride that we were [Jewish], although there was virtually no religious identification. ...More 
Without any doubt my parents were [role models] in the sense that I was brought up in a home that was full of joy ...More 
I think my children are role models today when I see how they're able to juggle their lives ...More 
I should say something about [Dr. Alan Guttmacher] and the influence he had on me and this [family planning] movement. I remember his talking very early on, of the joy that it was when you delivered a baby ...More 
I think there have also been a few professional people [I see as role models]. Anne Huppman, who was the very gentle but very firm ex-director of the Maryland Planned Parenthood ...More 
I don't know if [my field] was difficult for my kids when they were young; they certainly never implied that, and in fact I can remember them bringing their friends to me to ask questions ...More 
I very much try to save time to be a real human being ...More 
At least in my history and maybe it's just luck, I have been very lucky. I think we had the best of both possible worlds. ...More 
I never saw the feminist movement as something I wanted to get into because I didn't see my role as arguing for woman qua woman.It was the specifics of women's needs that have always grabbed me: their needs for family planning, their needs for health care ...More 
I had been very turned on by watching this organization [Planned Parenthood] and helping this organization grow and fulfill many strong roles in the community. ...More 
I joined the volunteer force [of Planned Parenthood in Baltimore] along with some other people who became close friends ...More 
The Community Action Agency movement was set up in each city in the United States under President Johnson [in the 1960s]. At the time we had the idea in Planned Parenthood that we ought to establish a Community Family Planning Center in another part of town, in a very poor part of town ...More 
Dr. Janet Hardy invited me to work with her on planning an intervention [adolescent pregnancy prevention] in a couple of the schools nearby ...More 
I came from a service background into academia. Very often academics raise questions that are of great interest to them and spend a lot of time doing research on something they want to know the answer to, but [that] isn't of much use to the people out there in the trenches delivering the services. ...More 
I would hope that through the Gates Institute which has really been sort of my last work (or I should say my latest if I hope to keep going on!) the idea that we serve best when we listen and try to fill the needs that we are serving, instead of coming in from the outside with firm ideas of our own. ...More 
I got a remarkable phone call from the Gates Family in Seattle ... after getting Bill Gates' father, who was in charge of the foundation, to actually come and visit Hopkins -- which was a wonderful experience for him as I've been told, and really changed the direction of the foundation ...More  Audio available
Some of the risks we take when we are involved in a movement, are a part of the essence of the movement itself [like] being willing to be attacked by those that oppose what one stands for. There are other steps that one takes that are much quieter and perhaps more personal. ...More  Audio available
I'd say the biggest joy of all is these marvelous doctoral students that we have from all over the world, people who are committed to making this their lives in the future. ...More  Audio available
I think that in the early years, in the change in Baltimore that I mentioned early on, we were very proud of that, certainly we were proud of the Neighborhood Family Planning Center ...More 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Impact on Self (Laurie Schwab Zabin)
Answer - Rewards (Laurie Schwab Zabin)
Answer - Challenges (Laurie Schwab Zabin)
 up to top

How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Laurie Schwab Zabin." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=plszabin>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Laurie Schwab Zabin," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=plszabin>.