Cecile Richards serves as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA's advocacy and political arm. She is a leader in national progressive politics with more than 30 years of experience working on behalf of social justice and reproductive freedom. Since February 2006, Ms. Richards has led Planned Parenthood to many significant achievements, including its success in ensuring FDA approval of over-the-counter status for emergency contraception, and the launch of a nationwide campaign to provide comprehensive, medically accurate sex education for all young people in the United States. Her yearlong tireless leadership in the fight for healthcare reform ensured that the bill, passed in March 2010, would strengthen women's health overall and include access to reproductive healthcare. Ms. Richards leads a federation of 87 Planned Parenthood affiliates that manage more than 825 health centers nationwide, providing family planning and reproductive healthcare services, education, and information to millions each year.
Prior to joining PPFA, Ms. Richards served as the founder and president of America Votes, a coalition of 42 national organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. America Votes was created to maximize voter registration, education, and mobilization among grassroots organizations. Fresh out of college, her first job was organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, healthcare, and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana, and Texas.
"I am humbled and honored to receive this award from The Nation Institute and The Puffin Foundation," said Richards. "This prize honors the essential work that the entire Planned Parenthood community does on behalf of women's health and rights throughout the United States and around the world. Most importantly, this very special prize recognizes the fact that there is still much work to do so that every woman has the right and the power to make the most basic choices for herself and to shape the course of her own life. When that day arrives, we will be much closer to achieving social justice for all."