Today, Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) board of directors announced Emily Wales has been named the organization’s president and CEO. To build on PPGP’s priority of expanding patient access, PPGP also announced the establishment of the Center for Abortion and Reproductive Equity (CARE), which will bring together PPGP’s expertise in lowering barriers to comprehensive care, with a commitment to addressing the structural challenges faced by marginalized communities in accessing health care.
PPGP Names President and CEO
Wales was named president and CEO following a nine-month selection process led by the global executive search firm August Leadership. Since September 2021, Wales has acted as interim president and CEO. Wales joined PPGP in 2017, and subsequently served as chief operations officer and general counsel. Wales is a Missouri native, who earned her Bachelor of Arts from William Jewell College and Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.
Launch of CARE Marks New Era in Support for Patients
Following increasing restrictions targeted at reproductive health, including current and anticipated total bans on abortion in the region, CARE was created under the leadership of PPGP’s Medical Director Dr. Iman Alsaden and Vice President for Health Services Brie Anderson to provide coordinated support for patients seeking services, many of whom come from BIPOC, rural, and otherwise marginalized communities. Based out of PPGP’s Wichita Health Center, CARE will also counter longstanding disparities in essential reproductive and sexual health care within PPGP’s region – Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and western Missouri.
When Texas’s S.B. 8 – a six-week ban – took effect in September 2021, PPGP’s health centers in Oklahoma saw a 2500% increase in Texans, the highest increase in patients seeking abortion care outside of Texas at any Planned Parenthood affiliate. The demand for services in Oklahoma remained at unprecedented levels until the state passed its own extreme total ban. During that time, patients fleeing their home states for care experienced trauma, mental stress, and feared for themselves and their families for exercising their right to abortion care.
To support equitable access to abortion and other reproductive and sexual health services, CARE will offer not only enhanced patient navigation, but also funding coordination, a referral network for therapists, an expert response team to address potential complications before or after care, and social work support. To complement this work, robust internal staff support will ensure CARE serves as a center for equity training. Patient and staff input has helped set CARE’s initial priorities. Patient needs and relationships with community experts will shape ongoing work. To join the CARE team, visit: https://jobs.lever.co/ppgreatplains
Statement from Planned Parenthood Great Plains Board Chair Jay Barth, Ph.D.:
“Emily Wales has been instrumental in leading this organization through a challenging time as the future of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance and amid unprecedented attacks on sexual and reproductive health care sweeping the states PPGP serves. Wales’s unique ability to drive the organization toward novel and collaborative solutions is crucially important now more than ever since critical, time-sensitive care is too seldom available in BIPOC, rural, and low-income communities. The board of directors proudly supports the first major initiative of Wales’s tenure. CARE will work regionally to tackle inequity in the communities hit at a disproportionate rate by attacks on essential health care and reproductive justice.”
Statement from Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Emily Wales:
“I am grateful to work alongside a passionate team in this fight. While the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to validate politicians’ attempts to turn back the clock on reproductive rights, we are building new roads towards equitable access to essential health care by launching CARE. Our health centers have filled the gap in care for patients from Texas seeking abortions since S.B. 8 took effect. We understand the post-Roelandscape because we are already living in it. Now, our patient navigation team will expand on the expertise they’ve developed during this regional crisis to meet patients where they are. CARE will link patients to abortion services, and other vital resources such as mental health services and support programs. Our commitment is to shout loudly that our doors are open, and we affirm a higher standard of care for patients in every community we serve.”
Statement from Planned Parenthood Great Plains Vice President of People, Equity and Culture Kourtney Vincent-Woodbury:
The harm dealt by tightening restrictions has systematically hit BIPOC, rural, and low-income communities the hardest – further entrenching white supremacism and economic injustice. Every time a state imposes an abortion ban, patients are forced to travel increasing distances for care and endure many complex and intersecting challenges. CARE will play a pivotal role in promoting an equitable future for abortion access and reproductive health care through collaboration with allied organizations, faith leaders, and members of the diverse communities we operate in, to build power to resist these attacks and fight for better care.”