Cecile Richards, a national leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights, kicked off the spring President's Forum Series with a talk, titled "The Future of Women's Reproductive Health and Rights," on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the Vandervort Room. As president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Richards oversees an organization with nearly 800 affiliate health centers nationwide. Planned Parenthood provides health care services and sex education to millions of people through its centers and website, which offers both English and Spanish language resources. Richards' talk coincides with the Colleges' celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Women's Studies Department.
Since becoming president in 2006, Richards has expanded the organization's advocacy for access to health care and ensured that Planned Parenthood played a pivotal role in shaping health care coverage and services for women under the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, she led an unprecedented nationwide campaign to preserve access to Planned Parenthood's preventive care through federal programs. Under her leadership, the number of Planned Parenthood supporters has doubled, reaching more than six million.
Before joining Planned Parenthood, Richards served as deputy chief of staff for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, she founded and served as president of America Votes, a coalition of 42 national grassroots organizations working to maximize registration, education and voter participation. She began her career organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana and Texas.
A frequent speaker and commentator on issues related to women's rights, reproductive health, and sex education, she is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She currently serves on the board of the Ford Foundation.
Richards holds a bachelor's degree in history from Brown University, who also bestowed her with an L.H.D. in 2010.