Dr. Leana Wen is the new President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She is the first physician in about 50 years to lead the organization. Planned Parenthood offers vital health services to nearly 2.5 million men and women each year through its more than 600 health centers across the country.
About Dr. Leana Wen
Before joining the Planned Parenthood Family in November 2018, Dr. Wen was the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. In this job, she led the oldest, continuously-operating health department in the U.S., founded in 1793, with 1,000 employees committed to enhancing well-being and fighting disparities.
Under her leadership, the Baltimore City Health Department led the country in health innovations and was acknowledged by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as the Local Health Department of the Year.
Facing a remarkable number of people dying from an opioid overdose, Dr. Wen announced a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone, to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore. This program saved about 3,000 lives in three years.
Under Dr. Wen’s guidance, the B’More for Healthy Babies program led to a nearly 40 percent decrease in infant mortality. She initiated Vision for Baltimore, which offers glasses free of charge to every child who needs them.
Following the 2015 Baltimore riot, Dr. Wen started programs to deliver medications and improve food access to seniors. She broadens trauma and mental health services; secured funding for Safe Streets, a program devised to treat gun violence as a contagious disease and led public health campaigns on vaccinations, childhood obesity, and racism as a public health issue.
Dr. Wen has battled to protect women and families from the Trump administration’s dogged attacks on basic health care protections. In March 2018, the City of Baltimore sued the Trump administration for cutting teen pregnancy prevention funds, which led to a federal judge ordering the revival of $5 million in grant funding to Baltimore’s teen pregnancy prevention programs. She has also fought Trump administration changes to the Title X program to protect funding for 23 health clinics in Baltimore offering reproductive health care for low-income women.
As a practicing physician, she managed thousands of doctors and health professionals against President Trump’s proposed gag rule, saying it basically changes the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and will significantly reduce the quality of care for women. Dr. Wen also aided to lead a lawsuit against the Trump administration for intentionally and unlawfully sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing health care for her city’s residents.
Dr. Leana Wen’s Early Days
Born in Shanghai, China, Dr. Wen shifted 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 acquired her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine prior to becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
She gained her Master’s degrees at the University of Oxford and finished 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 voted in the president of the American Medical Student Association and took a year off to fulfill her leadership duties, consisting of 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 depended on Planned Parenthood for health care. During medical school, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis.
Dr. Wen has also earned recognition as Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders and Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare. As 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 venerated to be the recipient American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2017, she was titled one of Governing’s Public Officials of the Year and in 2018, she was announced one of the 50 most influential people in healthcare for 2018 by Time Magazine.
Dr. Wen and Her Husband Have a one-year-old son, Eli