Dr. Leana Wen is the first Asian American as well as the first physician in 50 years to become the president of Planned Parenthood in 2018 after Cecile Richards announced her resignation. As an emergency room doctor and former health commissioner, Wen leads one of America’s most trusted reproductive health care providers.
Born in Shanghai, China, Wen’s family immigrated to the United States when she was eight years old, following the Tiananmen Square massacre. By 18 years old, Wen had already graduated from California State University and was on her way to medical school. After earning her medical degree at Washington University School of Medicine, Wen became a Rhodes Scholar, obtaining her master’s degrees at the University of Oxford as well as becoming a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School.
Previously, Wen was the Baltimore City Health Commissioner, leading the oldest health department in the United States and improving the city’s overall well-being. During her four years as the commissioner, Wen issued a blanket prescription for naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoes, to all residents of Baltimore, saving about 3,000 people in three years. In addition to combatting the opioid epidemic, Wen also led initiatives to support transgender-related medical services; reduction of infant mortality; coverage for children who need glasses; medication and food access to seniors; expansion of trauma and mental health service; and programs to treat gun violence as a public health issue.
Last year, Wen sued the Trump administration for its major cutbacks on teen pregnancy prevention funding as well as the intentional and unlawful sabotaging of the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in a federal judge ordering $5 million restored in funding. Under Wen’s leadership, the Baltimore City Health Department was recognized as the Local Health Department of the Year by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Media Resources: Planned Parenthood; New York Times 9/18/19; Refinery29 9/13/19