History of AFAP
The seed of what was to become AFAP first took root in 1990, when a group of Canadian and American women came together to establish the profession of secular Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs). At the time, these methods were taught almost exclusively in religious contexts. These women recognized the critical importance of supporting each other and developing viable systems for educating users and educators. They called their organization the Fertility Awareness Network (FAN). We are thankful to these women, some of whom (Toni Weschler, Geraldine Matus, and Lisa Leger) are still leaders in the field and members of AFAP. Others present at the beginning included Maggie MacDonald, Elaine Matus, Sara Rose, Merryl Winstein, Suzannah Cooper-Doyle, and Barbara Feldman, who was the first director of the organization.
The current director, Ilene Richman, took over in 2001, the year that Barbara Feldman died. Over the years, activity in the organization waxed and waned. By 2013, with the advent of Fertility Awareness apps and an explosion of content about FABMs on the internet, it had become apparent that the need for a professional organization had never been greater, and so FAN was re-organized and re-launched as the Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals.
Organizational Structure and Leadership
AFAP is a membership organization with several different categories of membership. Members participate in committees to accomplish the work of the organization, under the leadership of the Director.
Ilene Richman (AFAP Director), LMSW, FAE, has been teaching fertility awareness since 2001. In addition to her work as a Fertility Awareness Educator (FAE), Ilene also teaches comprehensive reproductive health and sexuality to adolescents. She has contributed to several books about fertility awareness and given numerous presentations to the general public as well as in professional settings. Ilene was mentored by Barbara Feldman, who was the first director of AFAP (then the Fertility Awareness Network) and also the originator of Ilene’s teaching practice, the Fertility Awareness Center. She is an LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) specializing in organizational leadership, and is committed to social and reproductive justice.
Committee membership: Reproductive Justice, Core Competencies/Certification, and Membership.
Geraldine Matus, PhD, FAE, has been an FAE since 1977 and has trained with Natural Family Planning organizations SERENA Canada, Billings, Couple-to-Couple League, and Creighton Model. In 1983 she began teaching as a secular FAE, and in 1985 completed certification as a home-birth midwife. In 1987 Geraldine developed the Justisse Method (secular) based on the SERENA and Creighton models. In 1988 she developed the rudiments of what is now the Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner (HRHP) Training Program and began training FAEs. Currently she has a private practice as a psycho-physiological practitioner (depth psychology) and continues to work as the Dean and Academic Director of the Justisse College.
Committee membership: Core Competencies/Certification and Continuing Education.
Anna Churchill, FAE, discovered fertility awareness in 2001. In 2012 her desire to share this information with others drew her to enroll in the Grace of the Moon teacher training program, which she completed in 2014. Since then she has been serving as a resource and spreading the word about fertility awareness in the Boston, Massachusetts area, and also is currently the Chair of the AFAP Membership Committee.
Committee membership: Membership.
Allison Macbeth, MSc, FAE, has been a sexual health educator since 2001, working in a variety of settings including contraceptive counselling, HIV education, and researching sex education in schools to earn a Master of Science in Sexual Health Education. She discovered fertility awareness in 2012 and enrolled in the Justisse College Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner Training program. She has officially been an FAE since 2015, is the Founder and Director of Blue Poppy Health, and is on the Community Advisory Council and conducts research with the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research at UBC in Vancouver.
Committee membership: Website and Continuing Education.
Current AFAP Committees
- Core Competencies/Certification
- Continuing Education
- Reproductive Justice
- Ethics and Bylaws