In honor of Black history month, Planned Parenthood would like to spotlight Faye Wattleton. Her work and her legacy are shining examples of Black excellence, and her positive contributions formed much of the bedrock from which our work today is built.
When Faye Wattleton took the helm as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1978, she was not only the first Black woman to hold the position. She was also the youngest, and was the first woman since Margaret Sanger to serve as the organization’s president.
Wattleton served in this role from 1978 to 1992. Additionally, Wattleton founded the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in 1989.
Wattleton made it her life’s work to champion reproductive rights after her work in health care brought her into contact with dozens of women suffering from having little to no access to reproductive health care.
Historically, Wattleton is regarded as a key figure in abortion rights during the 1980s. Her work is particularly remarkable for significantly increasing Planned Parenthood’s political outreach while simultaneously expanding patient access exponentially.
Under Wattleton’s leadership, Planned Parenthood expanded access to reproductive health care services from 1.1 million patients in 1978 to about 5 million patients in 1990.
Wattleton once remarked that, “My satisfaction [with my work] comes from my commitment to advancing a better world.”
We invite you to learn more about Faye Wattleton’s history and take a moment to reflect on the legacies and positive outcomes of her past leadership.