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Richardson joins Planned Parenthood during new era for abortion rights, will lead 28 health centers and telehealth options serving over 100,000 patients a year across multiple states

 St. Paul, MN—Today, Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS) announced Ruth Richardson will be the next CEO. Ruth joins PPNCS after longtime CEO Sarah Stoesz announced in December 2021 that she would be stepping aside this fall.

“We are thrilled for Ruth Richardson to join Planned Parenthood during this monumental time for our mission,” said Shane Swanson, Planned Parenthood North Central States Board Chair. “Ruth will bring the tenacity, dedication and fortitude needed in this work and at this time. We will continue building on the immense impact our work has on patients’ lives every day in our region.”

Ruth Richardson is a lawyer, a health equity champion, and a trailblazer. She has worked as CEO of Wayside Recovery Center, a non-profit health care organization that provides mental health and substance abuse support, throughout skyrocketing demand for services during the pandemic. She has served in the Minnesota House for four years, where she passed several bipartisan reproductive justice billsRuth will oversee the health care operations of PPNCS, and she will not oversee political work or lobbying while she holds her legislative seat. Sarah Stoesz will continue to serve as President of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota Action Fund at least through the November elections.

Operating in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, PPNCS is the regional leader for sexual and reproductive health care. PPNCS serves over 100,000 patients a year in 28 health centers and via telehealth options. Tens of thousands of people receive comprehensive sex education from nearly 50 educators across four states, including powerful, culturally specific peer education, and parent-child programs.

“I am excited to be joining Planned Parenthood North Central States during this critical time,” said Ruth Richardson, incoming CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “Every patient, staff member, supporter, and volunteer has cemented Planned Parenthood as the largest provider of compassionate sexual and reproductive health care in our region, with fierce advocacy to fight for our rights and an extensive sex education program. Our mission is more important than ever before. The new Post-Roe world means that we can’t operate in the same way as we have for the last 50 years. We have to be focused on serving patients across our region, and serving people from states that have banned abortion, by thinking about access regionally. I can’t wait to get to work.”

PPNCS is tackling the challenges of the new sexual and reproductive health landscape head on. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, 15 states have banned abortion, and more are expected to follow. PPNCS is currently providing abortion care in Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa.

“Serving Planned Parenthood for the last 21 years has been an incredible joy for me and my entire family,” said Sarah Stoesz, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “Planned Parenthood is a transformative force for good in the lives of the people of our region. Our team has accomplished so many important things during these last two decades —growing and deepening our reach in health care, education, advocacy, research, and fundraising.  And I am confident Ruth Richardson is the right leader to push our mission forward.”

“After a very lengthy and thorough search, the CEO Search Committee unanimously recommended that Ruth Richardson be appointed the next President and CEO for Planned Parenthood North Central States,” said Sharon Sayles- Belton, PPNCS Board Member and Chair of the CEO Search Committee. “Ruth’s education, background and experience in health care, health equity and executive leadership position her to successfully lead PPNCS forward.  We were delighted that the PPNCS Board of Director unanimously approved Ruth Richardson’s nomination.”

“As a reproductive health equity researcher and as a member of the Planned Parenthood of North Central States (PPNCS) Board of Directors, it is an incredible honor and privilege to support Ruth Richardson as she takes on the role of CEO of PPNCS,” said Dr. Rachel Hardeman, Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity and PPNCS Board Member. “As we move into new and uncharted post-Roe challenges, having a leader like Ruth at the helm is critical. As a Black woman and longtime champion of health equity, the lived experience and professional accomplishments that Ruth brings to PPNCS are invaluable. She deeply understands the intersections of reproductive rights, health, and justice, and she is a trusted leader in Minnesota and across the country. Ruth Richardson is the leader we need in this critical moment.”




Planned Parenthood North Central States and its subsidiary organizations provide, promote, and protect reproductive and sexual health through high quality care, education and advocacy. A member of America’s most trusted reproductive health care provider, our affiliate is proud to support and operate 28 health centers across our five-state region (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota).  Each year, we provide health care to nearly 115,000 people and health education to more than 55,000 people in our region.