First Physician to Lead Organization in Nearly 50 Years
NEW YORK, NY – Planned Parenthood Federation of America today announced that Dr. Leana Wen will serve as its president — the first time in nearly 50 years that a physician will helm the organization. Planned Parenthood provides essential health care to more than 2.4 million women, men, and young people through more than 600 health centers across the country, and is the largest provider of sex education in the country, reaching 1.5 million people a year. With more than 12 million active supporters, Planned Parenthood works to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights nationwide.
Dr. Wen currently serves as the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. A patient advocate and emergency physician, she has led the Baltimore City Health Department — the oldest, continuously-operated health department in the United States — since January 2015.
Today is a historic day for Planned Parenthood and the millions of people it serves. After an extensive search, I’m proud to announce that Dr. Leana Wen will serve as our next president,” said Naomi Aberly, Chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board of Directors. “A dynamic public health leader and practicing physician, Dr. Wen is the first doctor to lead Planned Parenthood in nearly 50 years. Not only will she help Planned Parenthood continue to provide high-quality care to women, men, and young people across the country, she will be a powerful voice in our fight to ensure women have the ability to make their own health care decisions — no matter what.
After considering some truly formidable women, the search committee unanimously, even joyfully selected Dr. Leana Wen,” said Anna Quindlen, Chair of the Search Committee and former Planned Parenthood Board Member. “Like so many of our affiliate leaders, she is passionate about balancing public advocacy for reproductive freedom with the daily provision of quality health care. Like so many of our patients, she is an immigrant determined to do the best for this country. As she likes to say, her whole life has been leading to this position.
For more than 100 years, no organization has done more for women’s health than Planned Parenthood, and I’m truly honored to be named its president,” said Dr. Leana Wen. “As a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader, I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities. As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight with everything I have to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.
Dr. Wen has dedicated her career to expanding access to health care for the most vulnerable communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to address public health problems. Known as the “Doctor for the City” in Baltimore, she oversees more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million; two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services; and medical programs for 180 Baltimore schools.
Anyone who has worked with Dr. Wen knows that when it comes to protecting her patients, she doesn’t back down from a fight,” said Representative Elijah Cummings. “In Baltimore, she has been a true partner in our shared mission to provide access to quality health care for all. She has expanded care, eliminated obstacles, and, most important of all, saved lives. Her brilliance and passion for her work shines through in everything she does. There is no question that in selecting Dr. Wen as its president, Planned Parenthood is gaining a powerful and effective advocate, and millions across this country will benefit from her leadership.
Over the last 18 months, Dr. Wen has fought to protect women and families in Baltimore from the Trump administration’s rollbacks of basic health care protections. In March 2018, on behalf of Dr. Wen and the Baltimore City Health Department, the City of Baltimore sued the Trump administration for cutting funds for teen pregnancy prevention, which resulted in a federal judge ordering the restoration of $5 million in grant funding to two Baltimore-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. She has fought Trump administration changes to Title X — the nation’s family planning program — to protect funding for 23 health clinics in Baltimore providing reproductive health care for women with low-incomes.
As a practicing physician, Dr. Wen helped organized thousands of doctors and health professionals against President Trump’s proposed domestic gag rule, saying it fundamentally alters the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and will dramatically reduce the quality of care for thousands of women.
Last month, Dr. Wen helped lead a lawsuit against the Trump administration for intentionally and unlawfully sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing health care for thousands of people in Baltimore.
Under her direction, the Baltimore City Health Department leads the country in health innovations and was recently recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as the Local Health Department of the Year.
These innovations include:
Facing an unprecedented number of people dying from opioid overdose, Dr. Wen issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, Naloxone, to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore. Since 2015, this program has saved more than 2,800 lives.
Under Dr. Wen’s direction, Baltimore’s B’More for Healthy Babies program has resulted in a nearly 40 percent reduction of infant mortality in just seven years.
She started Vision for Baltimore, which provides glasses free of charge to every child who needs them.
Following the 2015 Baltimore protests, Dr. Wen started programs to deliver medications and improve food access to seniors. She expanded trauma and mental health services; secured funding for Safe Streets, a program designed to treat gun violence as a contagious disease; and led public health campaigns on vaccinations, childhood obesity, and racism as a public health issue.
Dr. Wen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the United States with her family just before her eighth birthday. She and her parents were granted political asylum, and they became U.S. citizens in 2003.
Dr. Wen graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles at the age of 18, and earned her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. She obtained her master’s degrees at the University of Oxford and completed her residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. During medical school, she was elected president of the American Medical Student Association and took a year off to fulfill her leadership duties, including leading 65,000 physicians-in-training to fight for universal health and advocate for reproductive rights.
Growing up, Dr. Wen, as well as her mother and younger sister, often relied on Planned Parenthood for health care. During medical school, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis.
Dr. Wen has received recognition as Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders and Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare. A Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and Academy of Medicine, she serves on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2017, she was named one of Governing’s Public Officials of the Year.
Dr. Wen and her husband, Sebastian, have a one-year old son.
Dr. Wen's first day at Planned Parenthood Federation of America will be November 12.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives