A physician has been named the new president of not-for-profit healthcare services company Planned Parenthood. Leana Wen, MD, MSc, the organization’s sixth president, will be the first physician to hold the position in nearly 50 years, Planned Parenthood announced Wednesday.
Wen currently serves as the commissioner of health for the City of Baltimore and has led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015.
Planned Parenthood provides healthcare services to more than 2.4 million women, men and young people through more than 600 centers nationwide. Its sex education program reaches 1.5 million annually.
Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards announced her departure from the organization in January. She had served as president since 2006.
"For more than 100 years, no organization has done more for women’s health than Planned Parenthood, and I’m truly honored to be named its president,” Wen said in a statement. “As a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader, I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities. As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight with everything I have to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.”
Wen has been a part of a recent lawsuit launched against the Trump administration by the City of Baltimore and other major U.S. cities over the administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. In her current role, she is known as the “Doctor for the City” and oversees more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million, two clinics that provide care to more than 18,000 patients and medical programs for 180 Baltimore schools.
“Anyone who has worked with Dr. Wen knows that when it comes to protecting her patients, she doesn’t back down from a fight,” Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement. “In Baltimore, she has been a true partner in our shared mission to provide access to quality health care for all. She has expanded care, eliminated obstacles, and, most important of all, saved lives. Her brilliance and passion for her work shines through in everything she does. There is no question that in selecting Dr. Wen as its president, Planned Parenthood is gaining a powerful and effective advocate, and millions across this country will benefit from her leadership.”
Wen, who was born in Shanghai, immigrated to the U.S. with her family before her eighth birthday and was granted political asylum with her family before becoming citizens in 2003. Her first day at Planned Parenthood is scheduled for Nov. 12.