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We’re so pleased to introduce you to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s new Board of Directors Chair Gwen McDonald.

Gwen first joined the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte board in July 2019 and began her term as board chair last month. While still consulting in human resources and mentoring young women, Gwen recently retired as executive vice president of Human Resources for a Fortune 500 software company.

Gwen, how did you first become interested in Planned Parenthood Mar Monte?

Gwen McDonald:
I have always had a fascination with Planned Parenthood, its mission and its value to the entire community. This goal has resonated with me all my life, and after I retired, I really wanted to do something where I was giving back. When I learned that Planned Parenthood Mar Monte was looking for new board members, the hair on the back of my neck stood up because that was the only non-profit I already had on my post-retirement ‘vision board.’ “

What does PPMM’s mission and impact mean to you?

GW: It’s so important that everyone has access to health care they need – everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status. I think about my mother and the incredible influence she had on my life and how people of color, like my mom, are the backbone of our society in so many ways. But they face tremendous disparities in our society, and that includes access to health care. The kind of care PPMM provides aligns with my personal and professional values.

What are you most looking forward to in this board position?

GW: I’m excited to be supporting PPMM President & CEO Stacy Cross’s organizational vision for growth, and I want to get the board more active in supporting our fundraising agenda. I’m so impressed by how the staff was such a trailblazer during the response to COVID, meeting people where they were so quickly, and that reflects the organizational rigor of PPMM. I want to use my decades of professional experience to support the culture that produces this incredible work.

Does your past professional experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work influence how you see your contributions to PPMM’s board?

GW: Absolutely. What I’ve been interested in my whole career is the question of how you create an environment that really allows talent to bring a unique contribution and their best work to the organization. As a former leader in human resources, diversity, equity, and inclusion was a key priority. Another key focus in the diversity conversation is “belonging.” Creating that feeling of belonging is something you can achieve by making sure everyone, of all backgrounds, feels they are part of a culture that fosters transparency, trust, and communication. I look forward to having conversations with the board about whether we’re doing things in a way that really involve inclusion and belonging, in support of Stacy’s vision. Hey, sometimes these conversations are difficult to have, but they are so important!


In your opinion, what is PPMM’s greatest challenge in the coming year?

GW: We live in two blue state – California and Nevada – and serve a tremendous number of folks, but we must think about how PPMM continues to grow. We have a huge and competitive market for health care professionals, so we really need to focus on staff attrition/retention and how to retain our most valuable assets -- our talented staff.

Since you retired, what does your perfect day look like?

GW: I have my amazing four grandchildren staying with me for the summer. They range in age from 18 to 13, and I love hanging out with them. We go to movies, and we play tons of board games. But we’ve also been playing a lot of Blackjack, their favorite at the moment. Being with them is the best!