The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Laurie Schwab Zabin

d. May 11, 2020

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Laurie Schwab Zabin until we are able to commission a full entry.

Laurie Schwab Zabin.

Courtesy of Joan Roth.

Laurie Schwab Zabin’s work in reproductive health changed how Americans approach sex education and teen pregnancy. After attending a Planned Parenthood meeting in 1951, Zabin began working as public relations coordinator for the Maryland office, successfully campaigning to make Baltimore the first city to allow social workers to refer clients for family planning. She served as director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Maryland for more than a decade. In 1979, Zabin earned a PhD in population dynamics from Johns Hopkins University, writing her thesis on teen pregnancy. Her findings that young women were most at risk for an unwanted pregnancy in their first month of sexual activity highlighted the need for sex education before teenagers became sexually active. Zabin taught at Johns Hopkins in both the school of medicine and the department of population dynamics. In 1999 she became founding director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, through which she worked to create successful policies in family planning and health systems for countries all over the world.

Laurie Schwab Zabin was honored at the 2002 Women Who Dared event in Baltimore.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Laurie Schwab Zabin." (Viewed on September 22, 2023) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now