Mar. 18 2016
Planned Parenthood chief calls public health leadership “inspired, vital, and critical” for our future

Linda P. Fried, Dean and Delamar Professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, today announced that Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will deliver the keynote address at Mailman School commencement on May 17, 2016.

“As Planned Parenthood celebrates 100 years, I am delighted that Ms. Richards has accepted our invitation to be commencement speaker,” Dean Fried said. “With vision, commitment and effectiveness, Ms. Richards leads a key organization dedicated to women’s health and reproductive choice. With her influence, her wisdom, and her compassion, Cecile Richards exemplifies the quality of public health leadership to which our students aspire.”

Cecile RichardsRichards, who was nominated to be speaker by Mailman School faculty and members of the Class of 2016, has been an outstanding leader of Planned Parenthood since 2006 and an outspoken defender of women’s health, reproductive rights, evidence-based sex education, and access to health care for women, men, and young people nationwide.

In addition to leading a movement that has worked for nearly 100 years to build a healthier and safer world for women and young people, Richards is a major figure on our country’s political landscape. She worked to ensure that the Affordable Care Act guaranteed access to preventive health care for all women, testified for five hours in front of Congress about the vital role Planned Parenthood plays in our health care system, and spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court after arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the biggest abortion case in decades.

“I’m thrilled to celebrate with the Mailman School’s Class of 2016,” Richards said. “This school prepares the next generation of public health experts with a deep understanding of health disparities. In a world where access to high-quality health care is still out of reach for so many, Mailman School graduates are going into a world where they can make an enormous difference in people’s lives.”

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With over 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Planned Parenthood remains committed to providing comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services, to advocate for public policies that guarantee these rights, and to educate and inform all audiences about reproductive health and human sexuality.

The Mailman School ranks among the top 5 public health schools in the country, according to the 2015 U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings. Commencement takes place at the Armory, directly across from the School’s Columbia University Medical Center location in Washington Heights. More than 600 graduates will earn the Master’s in Public Health, Master of Healthcare Administration, Master of Science, Doctor of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy at the School ceremony before participating in the larger commencement held the next day at the university’s Morningside Heights campus.