Dr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore, is Planned Parenthood’s first Asian-American president.
In a press release Wednesday, the reproductive health nonprofit said that it chose Wen after “an extensive search.”
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) September 12, 2018
Dr. Wen succeeds Cecile Richards — who had served since 2006 and announced her resignation in January — to become the sixth president of the organization.
The 35-year-old is also the first physician to lead the organization in 50 years.
“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,” she said.
Dr. Wen, a first-generation Chinese immigrant, came to the U.S. just before her eighth birthday after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Her family received political asylum and became American citizens in 2003.
She graduated summa cum laude from California State University before pursuing a medical degree at the Washington University School of Medicine. She then became a Rhodes Scholar.
While we work towards long-term goals, we have to acknowledge short-term wins. If #publichealth is invisible, who will care about it? We have to make people care @BMore_Healthy @drJoshS @JohnsHopkinsSPH pic.twitter.com/APmnKz45lo
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) August 2, 2018
Dr. Wen grew up poor in Compton, California and relied on Planned Parenthood services along with her mother and sister.
“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,” she recalled.
#Breastfeeding is great for the mother, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and then recommends supplemental breastfeeding for 1 year #WBW18 #LactationAccommodation pic.twitter.com/Wg5tl1awi3
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) August 6, 2018
Appointed as Baltimore’s Commissioner of Health in 2014, Dr. Wen won praise for her work in reducing infant mortality rates and racial disparity in healthcare.
She also expanded the city’s mental health services and secured funding for a program that aimed to treat gun violence as a contagious disease.
“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,” said Dr. Wen.
This makes no sense to me, as doctor and public health leader. If the goal is to reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions, why would you take away funding for family planning/evidence-based contraception? #TitleX pic.twitter.com/hO4dhOVlbJ
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) July 24, 2018
Baltimore sued the Trump administration earlier this year for cutting teen pregnancy prevention funds. The U.S. District Court for Maryland ruled in the city’s favor and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to continue processing its fund application.
“Anyone who has worked with Dr. Wen knows that when it comes to protecting her patients, she doesn’t back down from a fight,” said Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, whom Dr. Wen named her son after.
Honored to have spent the morning discussing the #CAREact and the importance of sustained, federal funding to address the #opioidepidemic here in #Baltimore and across the country pic.twitter.com/7M3ixLV7hq
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) July 27, 2018
Cummings added, “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.”
Dr. Wen will enter office by Nov. 12.