Planned Parenthood’s Messy Presidential Transition

By Jim Sedlak

From 2018 through 2020, Planned Parenthood went through a transition of leadership. Because of the size and the nature of the organization, the transition scenario was very public and filled with numerous twists and turns.

The basic facts are clear. Cecile Richards stepped down as the organization’s president and CEO in May 2018. PPFA had a temporary spokesperson, Dawn Laguens, while a committee searched for a new president/CEO. The committee settled on Dr. Leana Wen, and she officially took that role in November 2019. The board of directors quickly turned on her and fired Wen in July 2019. Alexis McGill Johnson was brought in as the acting president in 2019 and was formally named president/CEO in July 2020.

All of that is well known, but what took place behind the scenes, financially, as all these maneuvers were being made? Since the Planned Parenthood federation receives almost 40 percent of its annual income from the United States taxpayers, there is public interest in the finances of Planned Parenthood.

This article looks at the financial facts of all the changes that took place during the transition. All facts presented here were taken from official form 990s filed by PPFA with the federal government. In filings with the federal government, PPFA reports on a fiscal year basis—from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the next. In the discussion below, the salaries reported are identified by the year of the end of PPFA’s fiscal year.

FY 2017—this was Cecile Richards’ last full year as president/CEO. In that year, she received $744,833 total compensation. In that same year, Dawn Laguens was executive vice president (EVP) and received $638,532.

FY2018—Cecile Richards’ employment ended on May 2, 2018. She received $1,033,274 total compensation that year. Dawn Laguens was the EVP and spokesperson after Richards’ exit. She received $891,092.

FY2019—Leana Wen was hired as the new president/CEO on November 12, 2018. Her total compensation from then until the end of the fiscal year (June 2019) was $183,845. Dawn Laguens continued to serve as spokesperson (until Wen’s arrival) and EVP. Her total compensation was $817,430. Cecile Richards—who had resigned during FY2018—received additional compensation of $926,181.

FY2020—Leana Wen was fired by the board of directors and officially left on July 16, 2019. Her total compensation for the fiscal year was $1,284,459. Alexis McGill Johnson became the acting president after Wen’s departure. Her compensation for the fiscal year was $337,611. Dawn Laguens became “Senior Advisor” and her compensation for the year was $1,151,786.

In four fiscal years, Planned Parenthood paid a total of over $8 million to four individuals who occupied the top jobs in its corporate structure at its national office in New York City.

Remember, this is the same organization that is continually crying poverty and begging the federal government, states, cities, and communities across the country to give it taxpayer money.

Clearly, Planned Parenthood is not the benevolent organization it would like us to believe. It is, instead, an organization with a thirst for the blood and souls of children and a lust for money.

Jim Sedlak is executive director of American Life League, founder of STOPP International, and host of a talk show on the Radio Maria Network. He has been successfully fighting Planned Parenthood since 1985.