Planned Parenthood, NatGeo Get New Leadership

For the first time in almost a half-century, a physician will lead Planned Parenthood while National Geographic Society turned to a board member and former longtime partner at Goldman Sachs to be its new CEO.

Dr. Leana Wen was announced last week as the organization’s next president, effective Nov. 12. She will succeed Cecile Richards, who stepped down in May after 12 years.

Tracy R. Wolstencroft will become the next president and CEO of the National Geographic Society (NGS), effective Oct. 1. Wen led the Baltimore City Health Department as commissioner since January 2015, overseeing more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million.

Based in Manhattan, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) reports about $1 billion in annual revenue across hundreds of affiliates around the nation, along with related organizations, such as PPFA Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that advocates on legislation.

Wen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the United States with her family just before her 8th birthday, according to the announcement. She and her parents were granted political asylum and became U.S. citizens in 2003.

Wen graduated summa cum laude from UCLA at the age 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 residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The national headquarters reported total revenue of $367 million for the fiscal year ending June 2017, up from $252 million the previous year, according to the most recent federal tax form available. Like other groups such as those that focus on human rights and the environment, PPFA has seen a spike in contributions and revenue since a new administration took over the White House in 2017.

Richards had served as president and CEO since 2006. She earned total compensation of $625,600, including base compensation of $440,782, in addition to $119,173 through the PPFA Action Fund.

The daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, she was deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi before leading Planned Parenthood. In 2004, she founded and served as president of America Votes, a coalition of 42 national grassroots organizations aimed to maximize voter registration, education and participation.

The Board of Trustees at NGS launched its CEO search in March after the previous president and CEO, Gary E. Knell, became CEO of National Geographic Partners. Michael L. Ulica served as interim president and CEO and will resume his previous roles of chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

“Thanks to our strategic relationship with National Geographic Partners (NGP), we’re uniquely positioned to reach global audiences through NGP’s powerful media platforms,” Wolstencroft said in a press release announcing his appointment. “It’s a unique privilege to join this amazing community of explorers, scientists, photographers, educators, storytellers and staff to help make measurable progress toward our ultimate vision: a planet in balance,” he said.

NGS did not include compensation details in the CEO announcement. In 2016, Knell earned $1.3 million in total compensation, including $840,067 in base compensation and $438,400 in bonus and incentives, according to the organization’s tax forms. The Washington, D.C.-based NGS reported revenue of almost $80 million that year, including $17 million in contributions. Wolstencroft will sit on the boards of both organizations.

In 2015, NGS extended a partnership with 21st Century Fox in a $725 million deal that included moving its flagship magazine into National Geographic Partners. NGS retained 27 percent ownership of National Geographic Partners while Fox owns 73 percent.

A long-standing partner at Goldman Sachs, Wolstencroft served as chairman of Heidrick & Struggles, a international consultancy that advises on the power of talent and leadership to drive organizational performance. From 2014 to 2017, he was the firm’s president and CEO, leading the company through a transformation.

Over the course of his 25-year career at Goldman, he led a wide array of its investment banking businesses and advised a diverse range of corporate and government clients. During his tenure, he spent four years living in Asia where he focused on China, Japan and Singapore. Upon retiring from Goldman, he continued advising the firm and serving as chair of Goldman’s global clean technology practice.

Wolstencroft has served as the society’s board vice chairman as well as chair of its finance committee, providing seasoned stewardship of the organization’s financial assets and demonstrating his deep understanding of its mission. He joined the board in May 2008 after having served on the society’s International Council of Advisors since 2004.

In addition to his contributions to the Board of Trustees, he is co-chair of the International Rescue Committee, a trustee of the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.