When Cecile Richards stepped down as president of Planned Parenthood in January 2018 after more than a decade in the position, we were all left guessing who would take her place and how this person would shape the future of the health organization. On Sept. 12, 2018, we learned that Dr. Leana Wen would step into the position, and while we love Richards, we’re pretty excited about the possibilities under new leadership.
Here are a few things to know about Wen, including the experience that prepared her for taking the helm of Planned Parenthood.
Believe it or not, Wen is the first physician chosen to lead Planned Parenthood in almost 50 years according to a release from the organization. And while you might guess that she’s an OB-GYN, she’s actually an emergency room doctor. When you think about it, being calm under pressure will be invaluable when she has to deal with the inevitable political battles the organization has always faced.
Clearly, we know that sexual health is a public health concern, so it makes sense that Wen has experience working in public health. In fact, she currently serves as the commissioner of health for the City of Baltimore — a position she has held since 2015. As the "Doctor for the City," she oversees more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million.
Wen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was 8 years old. Her family was granted political asylum, and they became citizens in 2003.
According to a release from the organization, Wen, her mother and sisters all used Planned Parenthood for basic health care at different points in their lives.
Not only was Wen a patient, but she also worked as a volunteer at Planned Parenthood while she was in medical school, the New York Times reports.
Wen graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles, at the age of 18, then got her medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine and then became a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford.
Last summer, Wen was not pleased when she heard about Trump’s plan to cut a grant for teen pregnancy-prevention programs in several cities, including Baltimore. So, she did what any responsible commissioner of health would do and got the city to sue the Trump administration. Thankfully, they won, and the programs remain in place, Rolling Stone reports.
In short, we’re confident she can get stuff done on both national and local levels and can’t wait to see what’s next. Congratulations, Dr. Wen!
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