From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011
Entrant: Rachael Longo
Nominee: Carolynn Ernst, Associate VP of Health Center Operations, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
Every Mom is a hero.
The love of a mother, the work of a mother, is enough for that title. My mom is not only a hero for raising me and my two siblings, but also for her lifelong dedication to women everywhere.
Carolynn Ernst has been working as an adult and family nurse practitioner for over 30 years. She is currently the Associate VP of Health Center Operations of a 26 health center, three-state affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has been fighting for women’s rights her whole life. She is a life-long learner; never accepting that she has enough knowledge to continue in her field, she has continued her education throughout her career, even earning a post-graduate Family Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of Vermont, while raising three kids and working full-time.
She has marched in Washington to ensure a woman’s right to choose. She has been brave in the face of terrible threats from anti-abortionists who have called in bomb threats to her clinics or sent suspicious letters, possibly containing anthrax. And she has continued on, marching forward, never wavering in her belief and conviction that a woman should be in charge of her body, be able to feel proud of her body and her decisions and most of all, feel beautiful and confident, no matter what road they choose in life.
My mother gave me pride, self esteem and self worth, courage and determination. She gave me the freedom to dream big and never allows me to give up on myself or those that I love. She did all of this, while dedicating her life to women everywhere, educating and caring for them, teaching them how to care for themselves and prevent unwanted disease and pregnancy.