Faye Wattleton: Champion for women’s rights and health care

AJC Sepia Black History Month


Faye Wattleton set the bar high in the fight to improve women’s lives and access to health care.

From 1978 to 1992, Wattleton served as president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a major provider of medical and education services for millions of women.

By the time she left the organization, it had grown to become the nation’s seventh-largest nonprofit organization with an aggregate budget of $500 million and 170 affiliates in the United States.

“Many things happened while I was at Planned Parenthood,” she said in an interview. “It expanded its services and laid the groundwork for political activism. We defeated (Robert) Bork and we defeated congressional attempts to reverse Roe v. Wade.”

Bork, a former federal judge and conservative, was nominated for a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, but it was successfully opposed.

In the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state’s interpretation of when a woman could have an abortion and made abortion legal.

Wattleton was born on July 8, 1943, in St. Louis. Her mother was a minister and seamstress, and her father was a factory worker.

At 16, she enrolled at Ohio State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She later attended Columbia University, where she pursued a master’s degree in maternal and infant care, according to Biography.com.

Wattleton currently serves as managing director with Alvarez & Marsal in New York and leads the board governance advisory practice for the global business consulting firm.

Prior to joining Alvarez & Marsal, Wattleton served as co-founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women, an independent, nonpartisan think tank that conducted women-focused national research for public education and policy advocacy, according to the company’s website.



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