Acting president and CEO, Planned Parenthood
In the middle of a tumultuous summer, which saw the venerable nonprofit battling the federal government, Planned Parenthood named Alexis McGill Johnson its new acting president and CEO. Johnson, a champion of civil rights, has spent the bulk of her career attempting to effect social justice. Among others, she has worked for and with the New York Civil Liberties Union, Citizen Change, Citizen Engagement Lab and the Perception Institute. The latter is a racial bias research group she cofounded.
Johnson previously served as a Planned Parenthood board member for nearly a decade and as board chair from 2013 to 2015. As acting president, she leads the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Johnson assumes leadership of the organization at a pivotal moment. While the nonprofit has been at the center of fierce debates for years, advocates worry the current conservative Supreme Court could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. Additionally, the government has attempted to strip Title X federal funds from Planned Parenthood this year, a move the group is battling in court.
Don’t expect Johnson to adopt a conciliatory approach to the challenges. “State lawmakers across the country, this administration and our opposition have zeroed in on abortion and Planned Parenthood, and they have made it so that we have to fight to stay alive and to fulfill our mission,” Johnson said in a July interview with Colorlines. “We don’t have the luxury to pretend that these attacks can be ignored. There is no sitting this out and hoping for the best. So we fight, because we have to, and because we are right. Everyone deserves access to health care. It’s a basic human right.”