AIWA-SF Interview with Adrienne Bosuian


By: Christine Soussa

Adrienne Bousian

When Adrienne Bousian and I (Christine) spoke the interview quickly became a discussion among friends. Her natural energy creates a comfortable environment as she passionately speaks about serious issues including Social Justice and Women’s Health.

An active member of AIWA-SF, Adrienne is Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Northern California (PPNorCal) and the Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund. Within her role, Adrienne focuses on policy (local, state and federal) and online and grassroots advocacy in 20 Northern California counties. Planned Parenthood Northern California is the fifth largest Planned Parenthood in the country and Adrienne is delighted to share that California is leading the charge on expanding women’s health care and family planning.

Currently, PPNorCal is focused on updating reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal providers. This is critical to ensure access to quality health care for low-income Californians. They have three high-priority state legislative bills they are working on as well, including SB 447 (Allen), the Community Clinic Payment Act of 2015 that will help expand women’s health and allow Planned Parenthood to provide expanded on-site services to patients. {link to: http://www.ppactionca.org/news/dc-lobbyday-2015.html

PPNorCal External Leadership, 2014
PPNorCal External Leadership, 2014

Question 1: Tell us a bit about your background:

{Adrienne}:  Growing up in an Armenian household and hearing the stories about the Armenian Genocide has had a deep and lasting impression on me. Hearing stories about how my grandparents came to the U.S. to escape the genocide, I know that there can be profound injustice against humanity.  I also came to realize the power of governments and NGOs to work either for or against people. I have an ingrained passion for how I can make the world a better place and help with social justice. For seven years, I worked for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer as her Deputy State Director. I started as her Field Representative to numerous communities and counties and ended up in a leadership position as a senior staff member with 6 field staff and many interns. During that time, I was moved and inspired by powerful leaders like Senator Boxer who work tirelessly for the people of California, including women, children and working families. I also loved that Barbara Boxer is a longtime supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition.

adrienne 5
Adrienne with Congressman Jared Huffman and key staff and board at PPNorCal health center in Marin (2013)
AB and BB Visalia
Adrienne with Senator Boxer visiting a Boys & Girls Club in the Central Valley (2007)

Many years ago, I held an internship through AGBU-NY and was placed in U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s NYC office. At the time I had no idea that I would later work for another Senator.  I was inspired by my time in his office because he was a powerful public servant, famous for social welfare.  It has always been heartening to see so many leaders work hard every day on behalf of improving the lives of others. I am also grateful that I have been able to work with Armenians in California and it’s exciting to see a new bipartisan California Armenian Legislative Caucus working to empower the Armenian American community throughout the state. Throughout the many roles and experiences of my career, I have had the wonderful opportunity to encounter strong leaders who fight hard for social justice and these experiences continue to inspire my passion for women’s rights and the importance of ensuring that women and their families can live healthy and empowered lives.

Question 2: How and when did you decide to turn your passion for injustice into a profession?

{Adrienne}: I was undeclared in college for the first 2 years. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in and I had no idea what career was right for me.  My career path was certainly not clearly laid out for me. There is no career counselor or job fair that tells you how to change the world!  I just paid attention to the issues that resonated with me. My sophomore year in college I took a Sociology class, we learned about structural inequality and its impact on life.  These topics really interested me so I took more classes on the subject and graduated with a major in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, where of course, I was an active member of the ASA and other women’s and human rights groups. I then got my Masters from the University California, Santa Cruz in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Inequality. I figured out along the way where I could make the most impact based on things that really interest me.

Panel discussion, PPNorCal Leadership Summit, Fall 2014
Panel discussion, PPNorCal Leadership Summit, Fall 2014

Question 3: What message or philosophy for today’s generation?

{Adrienne}: I do quite a bit of mentorship and I often tell young people: “It’s okay to not know. It’s very okay to figure it out along the way and ask for help.”  I found success by noticing what resonates with me and I encourage others to do similarly. It’s also important to be proud of ones heritage, regardless of what it is. As an Armenian I am proud of our history and culture.

Question 4: Within your role you mentioned a focus on policy, how does Planned Parenthood drive policy?

{Adrienne}:  We have an amazing team that helps identify the need for change. Once change is identified, i.e. areas where we can increase access to health care, we work with members of the legislature and Congress to sponsor bills. We also co-sponsor and support many other bills.  Within my role, I am involved in helping to set priorities and helping to pass bills and drive support from the community. I’ve always seen my role as more unique in that I am in the space where policy, communication, funding, and community come together.  My goal is to make sure that community and government are more connected. For example, reproductive rights, is a big topic in women’s health and plays a critical role in a woman’s ability to have a quality life and economic security.  Sadly, there are so many attacks on women’s health. You may recall that in 2011 there was a push to shut down our national “Title X” Family Planning program.  It may come as a surprise that there is no money in that family planning program for abortions. That program was what the title says, to help women and families plan. When this happened, it became a huge initiative. We have 7 million Planned Parenthood supporters nationwide and we were able to educate the public on what we do. This was a very successful message and we were able to promote the reality that 97% of what we do is preventative health. At Planned Parenthood we offer a range of resources including health services, education and advocacy.  When I became a Mom, there was a lot of planning and support and it’s still hard. It’s critical that women be secure and have a space where they can plan and take smart preventative measures to promote their health and well-being.

Planned Parenthood is Teamed with Lena Dunham on the Not That Kind of Girl book tour.
Planned Parenthood is Teamed with Lena Dunham on the Not That Kind of Girl book tour.

It is very easy to neglect our health, especially as women, since we are often doing so many other things. Preventative health is critical and we thank Adrienne for all she does to continue to support and advocate for women and families. Women’s health and health education is a big focus of AIWA-SF and we have many projects and initiatives dedicated to women’s health advancement.


To learn more about AIWA, please visit www.aiwainternational.org.  To get involved with the AIWA SF affiliate, please visit www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.


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