Planned Parenthood of Nassau County's (PPNC) President & CEO, JoAnn D. Smith, will receive a Making A Difference for Women Award at the Soroptimist International of Nassau County Annual Gala on June 26, 2012 at the Westbury Manor.
Each year, Soroptimist International of Nassau County selects outstanding individuals to receive their Making a Difference for Women Awards. These awards honor women who, professionally, or in a volunteer capacity, are making extraordinary differences in the lives of other women. Making a Difference for Women Honorees have worked to improve the lives of women and girls, have had significant impact on their lives, and to inspire and encourage other women.
Ms. Smith was chosen for her work at the helm of PPNC for the past seven years, where she has made protecting the health and rights of women and girls in Nassau County her highest priority. As President & CEO, she is responsible for ensuring that every single one of the agency's 13,000 annual patients receives affordable, quality care--regardless of their ability to pay.
When the recession hit in 2009 and the number of women turning to PPNC for subsidized care skyrocketed, Ms. Smith ramped up fundraising efforts, rallied the Board of Directors and introduced cost-saving measures to ensure that PPNC's patients would continue to get the care they both need and deserve. While other family planning agencies across the nation were forced to cut back services and even close their doors, Ms. Smith made it possible for all the women and girls here in Nassau to have an affordable, reliable and trusted place to turn for reproductive health care.
Last October, when state funding for PPNC's prenatal program was slashed by 60 percent, Ms. Smith launched an emergency campaign to raise additional funds and ensure that the women who rely on the prenatal program could continue to receive the free care they needed for a safe, healthy pregnancy.
Under Ms. Smith's leadership, PPNC's education department has also thrived, reaching 22,000 teens, college students, parents and professionals annually. Ms. Smith helped establish PPNC's Promotoras program, a group of Spanish-speaking women who educate Latinas about reproductive health care. She pushed for the department to provide evidence-based programming that is more effective in helping girls prevent pregnancy. And she has spearheaded PPNC's involvement in Sisters United in Health, a coalition that promotes breast cancer prevention and screening services among women of color.
Ms. Smith also guides PPNC's advocacy efforts to defend women's health and rights locally, in other states and nationally. These efforts include galvanizing hundreds of women in Nassau to speak out for reproductive rights at a rally in Washington, D.C., organizing supporters to travel up to Albany for a Day of Action and recruiting advocates to talk one-on-one with their legislators.
Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC) is one of 79 affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and operates 3 health centers in Hempstead, Glen Cove and Massapequa. In 2011, PPNC provided preventive health services to more than 13,000 patients during 23,000 visits. We conducted education workshops, street outreach and prevention programs to over 36,000 community members, and mobilized 7,500 advocates to protect reproductive health care rights. PPNC has served the community for 79 years, and is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality and sexual health. For more information about PPNC's services and programs, visit www.ppnc.org.