Breaking: Planned Parenthood President Out

Leana Wen, M.D, president of Planned Parenthood for less than a year, is out. The board appointed Alexis McGill Johnson as acting president. Johnson is co-founder of the Perception Institute. She’ll serve as leader of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, and its political action nonprofit, Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.

Wen Tweeted that she learned she was surprised that she had been terminated and that there had been “good faith negotiations” regarding her leaving the job. Wen was announced as the new chief executive in September and started on the job Nov. 12, succeeding Cecile Richards, who stepped down in May 2018 after 12 years on the job.

Shortly after that, Wen issued a statement via Twitter, in which she cited “philosophical differences” with the organization’s new board chair, Aimee Cunningham “over the direction and future” of Planned Parenthood:

In another Tweet, Wen issued a lengthier statement, framed as a “Dear Colleagues” letter, in which she shared a detail from the search process and her selection last fall after more than three years as commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department:

Wen said she posed the question to the board: “Did they see Planned Parenthood as an advocacy organization first, with medical services that are necessary to strengthen its impact, or did they see Planned Parenthood as a health organization first, with advocacy as a necessary vehicle to protect rights and access?”

A search for a new president and CEO will start early next year, with a goal of having a new president in place by the end of the year, according to the organization.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood confirmed that the board’s executive committee met yesterday to decide on Wen’s future as president but declined further comment citing personnel issues. A spokesman for Wen said it’s not likely she would be making any additional comment beyond her statements.

The organization made a statement thanking Wen and wishing her well. “Today, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) boards of directors announced that Dr. Leana Wen is departing her role as President and CEO of PPFA and President of PPAF, and that Alexis McGill Johnson has been named Acting President and CEO of PPFA and Acting President of PPAF, effective immediately. Johnson is a former member of the board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, as well as a former chair and member of the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”

Cunningham and PPAF Board Chair Jennie Rosenthal said via the statement: “We thank Dr. Leana Wen for her service to Planned Parenthood in such a pivotal time and extend our best wishes for her continued success. We are pleased to announce that Alexis McGill Johnson has been named Acting President, effective immediately. Alexis is a renowned social justice leader, lifelong political organizer, and a tireless advocate for reproductive rights and access to quality, affordable health care. She has served as a Planned Parenthood board member for nearly a decade and acted as Planned Parenthood’s Board Chair from 2013 to 2015, where she expanded the organization’s philanthropic reach and helped develop a strategic plan to increase access to Planned Parenthood’s health centers and identify new technologies to meet the needs of Planned Parenthood’s patients.”

Check back for updates on this developing story.