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Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, Named One Of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
TIME has named Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), to the 2011 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The full list and related tributes appear in the May 2 issue of TIME, available on newsstands on Friday, April 22, and now online HERE.
Richards, 53, is one of the most recognized and respected figures in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights. As president of PPFA and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Ms. Richards leads a dynamic organization that provides high-quality, affordable health care services to three million women, men and teens each year. PPFA also provides sexual health information to 24 million people worldwide each year through plannedparenthood.org.
Earlier this year, Ms. Richards led Planned Parenthood as it faced down a direct threat to women’s health care. At issue was a congressional measure, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, that would have barred Planned Parenthood from providing lifesaving breast exams, screenings for cervical cancer, birth control and other preventive care through Medicaid and other federal programs. On April 14, the U.S. Senate resoundingly defeated the proposal with bipartisan support by a vote of 58-42.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s foremost provider of sexual and reproductive health care and sex education. Its 84 affiliates operate more than 800 health centers nationwide. It is also a forceful advocate for women’s health and rights.
Planned Parenthood was born in 1916, when Margaret Sanger opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York, and impoverished immigrant women lined up for help planning and controlling their pregnancies. Local authorities promptly shuttered the clinic and jailed the founders, but Sanger had launched a powerful movement that is still growing and thriving — despite continued political resistance.
“I am thrilled to accept this honor on behalf of the generations of women associated with Planned Parenthood who have stood together to deliver health care, share honest information about sex, and defend women’s rights,” Richards said. “Planned Parenthood has never wavered in its commitment to help people decide when and how they want to start a family. Our volunteers, employees and supporters have pioneered new methods of birth control, including the pill, and worked on the ground to make basic health care and honest information about sexual health available to all who need it. They are the people who have earned this honor, and I thank every one of them for making it possible. The millions of patients we care for are healthier for it and are living fuller lives.”
Ms. Richards joined Planned Parenthood in 2006. Among other initiatives to reinvent the organization for the 21st century, she invested in the development of Planned Parenthood Online, a unified national website in English and Spanish. The site now receives 2.6 million unique page views per month, exponentially expanding Planned Parenthood’s reach. She has also overseen the introduction of groundbreaking mobile Web, chat, and text applications that promise to make Planned Parenthood services available to people any time of day or night, wherever they may be.
Under Ms. Richards’ leadership, Planned Parenthood has built the largest women’s health advocacy organization in America, with 5.7 million supporters. She introduced the PPFA Youth Initiatives Program to train teens from across the United States in advocacy, lobbying, and media outreach so they can mobilize their peers and organize grassroots efforts on behalf of sex education and reproductive rights locally, nationally and globally.
Before joining Planned Parenthood, Ms. Richards served as deputy chief of staff for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, she founded and served as president of America Votes, a coalition of 42 national grassroots organizations, working to maximize registration, education, and voter participation nationwide. Ms. Richards began her career organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care, and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana, and Texas.
Ms. Richards is married to Kirk Adams and they have three children. She is the daughter of the late Ann Richards, who served as governor of Texas.
The TIME 100, now in its eighth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. As TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel has said of the list in the past, “The TIME 100 is not a list of the most powerful people in the world, it’s not a list of the smartest people in the world, it’s a list of the most influential people in the world. They’re scientists, they’re thinkers, they’re philosophers, they’re leaders, they’re icons, they’re artists, they’re visionaries — people who are using their ideas, their visions, their actions to transform the world and have an effect on a multitude of people.” Follow @TIME for updates about the list on Twitter and at Facebook.com/TIME.