Planned Parenthood recently announced that Dr. Leana Wen will be serving as their new president. The announcement comes after Cecile Richard,their former president stepped down from the position in April this year. Many are thrilled for her appointment because it is the first time in 50 years that a doctor has held this position.
As daughter of immigrants, Dr. Wen was born in Shanghai, China. Her family later moved to the United States when she was eight, and they became American citizens in 2003. After graduating from California State University, she received her medical degree from Washington University of Medicine. She furthered her education and received a Master’s degree at the University of Oxford, where she also became a Rhodes Scholar. After Dr. Wen completed her residency at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, she attained a position as a Clinical Fellow at the famous Harvard Medical School.
Photo: Miguel Bruna on Unsplash
Dr. Wen’s dedication towards equal access to quality healthcare is apparent throughout her career. While she was in medical school, she was elected president of the American Medical Student Association. As president, she led 65,000 physicians-in-training to advocate for reproductive rights and universal health care. Dr. Wen also volunteered at a Planned Parenthood health care center in St. Louis while in medical school.
Her prior work experience includes her current role as the Commissioner of Health for the city of Baltimore and an emergency physician. She has also lead the Baltimore City Health Department since 2015.
Dr. Wen is an advocate for several health care issues, such as treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction and the reduction of infant mortality for the city of Baltimore. In addition to being an activist, she is also the author of When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests.
Her connection to Planned Parenthood is personal. Dr. Wen revealed that herself, mother, and her sister have all utilized their services. She recalls the times throughout her career when she has seen the failures of the healthcare system negatively impact her patients.
As a 35-year-old, it seems as though Dr. Wen represents the future of Planned Parenthood. She says, “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.”
Earlier this year she won a lawsuit against the Trump Administration regarding funding for Baltimore’s teen pregnancy prevention programs. Also, as a mother to young son, she argues for improved paid family leave. In an often combative political environment, the evidence suggests that Dr. Wen is equipped for this role.
Dr. Wen will begin her new role on Nov 12. While it is unclear what the future will hold, Dr. Wen seems to have the experience and energy to keep Planned Parenthood thriving.
Olivia Pandora Stokes is 21 and entering her senior year as a business administration major, with a marketing concentration. She has a love of words, Netflix, and reading.She takes her coffee strong (Harvard scientists insist it's healthy for you) and her feminism intersectional. In the future Olivia Pandora plans write more and use business to create a positive impact in the world.