Dr. Leana Wen Becomes First Asian American and First Immigrant to Serve as President of Planned Parenthood

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America today announced that Dr. Leana Wen will serve as its sixth president — the first time in nearly 50 years that a physician will helm the organization.

Dr. Wen currently serves as the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. A patient advocate and emergency physician, she has led the Baltimore City Health Department — the oldest, continuously-operated health department in the United States — since January 2015.

Dr. Wen has dedicated her career to expanding access to health care for the most vulnerable communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to address public health problems. Known as the “Doctor for the City” in Baltimore, she oversees more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million; two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services; and medical programs for 180 Baltimore schools.

As a practicing physician, Dr. Wen helped organized thousands of doctors and health professionals against President Trump’s proposed domestic gag rule, saying it fundamentally alters the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and will dramatically reduce the quality of care for thousands of women.

Last month, Dr. Wen helped lead a lawsuit against the Trump administration for intentionally and unlawfully sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing health care for thousands of people in Baltimore.

Under her direction, the Baltimore City Health Department leads the country in health innovations and was recently recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as the Local Health Department of the Year.

Dr. Wen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the United States with her family just before her eighth birthday. She and her parents were granted political asylum, and they became U.S. citizens in 2003.

Dr. Wen graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles at the age of 18, and earned her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. She obtained her master’s degrees at the University of Oxford and completed her residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. During medical school, she was elected president of the American Medical Student Association and took a year off to fulfill her leadership duties, including leading 65,000 physicians-in-training to fight for universal health and advocate for reproductive rights.

Growing up, Dr. Wen, as well as her mother and younger sister, often relied on Planned Parenthood for health care. During medical school, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis.

Dr. Wen has received recognition as Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders and Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare. A Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and Academy of Medicine, she serves on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2017, she was named one of Governing’s Public Officials of the Year.

Dr. Wen and her husband, Sebastian, have a one-year old son.

Dr. Wen’s first day at Planned Parenthood Federation of America will be November 12.

Read the full announcement from PPFA here.

Photo via 1199SEIU

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