Planned Parenthood named a Chinese immigrant who has headed Baltimore’s health department as the organization’s new president on Wednesday.
“Today is a historic day for Planned Parenthood and the millions of people it serves. After an extensive search, I’m proud to announce that Dr. Leana Wen will serve as our next president,” Naomi Aberly, chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board of Directors, said in a statement.
Wen, 35, is the first physician in nearly 50 years ― and only the second ever ― to be named Planned Parenthood’s president. She will take over the job from outgoing president Cecile Richards starting Nov. 12.
“Not only will she help Planned Parenthood continue to provide high-quality care to women, men, and young people across the country, she will be a powerful voice in our fight to ensure women have the ability to make their own health care decisions ― no matter what,” Aberly said.
Wen, born in Shanghai, came to the U.S. with her parents when she was eight years old and was raised in the Los Angeles area. Prior to her tenure as Baltimore health commissioner, Wen was an emergency room doctor at two hospitals in the Boston area, including Massachusetts General Hospital.
In a statement published Wednesday, Wen reflected on her new role.
“Today, the Board of Directors at Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced that I have been selected as its president,” she wrote. “For the last 102 years, no organization has done more for women’s health than Planned Parenthood, and I’m truly honored to be named its president.”
“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,” Wen continued. “As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.”
Richards congratulated Wen in a series of tweets Wednesday, writing that she “couldn’t be prouder” to welcome her to the Planned Parenthood family.
“She has dedicated her career to fighting for health care for all, both as a doctor and as a public health leader in the city of Baltimore,” Richards wrote. “I know she’ll be a champion for Planned Parenthood patients and for women, men, and young people everywhere.”
Richards announced in January she would be stepping down as president after 12 years at the organization’s helm.