As a nurse, Faye Wattleton saw suffering and the consequences of poor health care – and to help change this, she became one of the nation’s most effective advocates as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Wattleton became president of Planned Parenthood in 1978, a position she held until 1992. As the first woman to serve as the organization’s president since its founder, Margaret Sanger, Wattleton was the first African-American and the youngest president in the organization’s history. Wattleton is credited with developing the organization’s extensive national grassroots advocacy network that became a powerful lobbying force to block efforts to restrict and overturn women’s rights to make reproductive choices. Additionally, her powerful and articulate leadership gave the organization visibility that furthered its mission and extended its reach. During Wattleton’s administration, she directed the expansion of reproductive health care services for women and families from 1.1 million to about 5 million in 1990. Her strong leadership has made a powerful difference in the lives of many American women and their families.