|Born||Alyce Faye Wattleton
8 July 1943
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Author and regular news commentator.
Faye Wattleton (born Alyce Faye Wattleton; 8 July 1943) is the first African American, the youngest president ever elected to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the first woman since Margaret Sanger to hold the position. She is best known for her contributions to the family planning and reproductive health, as well as the pro-choice movement.
Early life and education
Wattleton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1943, the only child of a construction worker father and a mother who was a seamstress and a Church of God minister. During her childhood, her mother's calling meant that the family traveled frequently, and Wattleton saw the emotional effect her mother's preaching had on the congregation. Although her mother never approved of her work in reproductive rights, Wattleton considers the principle of nonjudgment espoused by the faith of her upbringing to have had a deep impact on her future work in family planning.
Entering Ohio State University at the age of 16, she was awarded a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1964, and went on to teach at a nursing school in Dayton, Ohio for two years. She earned her Master of Science degree in maternal and infant care, with certification as a nurse-midwife, from Columbia University in 1967. While working towards her master's degree, she interned at a hospital in Harlem. There, she saw first-hand the "life-threatening effects of unsafe abortions performed on female patients" and she began to work in women's health advocacy. In 1967 Wattleton was an assistant director of Public Health Nursing services in Dayton, Ohio. In Dayton, she "began her career as an effective coalition builder for reproductive rights." The same year, she also joined the board of the local Planned Parenthood and shortly after, Wattleton became the president of the Planned Parenthood of Dayton. In 1970, she became the executive director for Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley. Wattleton has also received 15 honorary doctoral degrees.
During her presidency at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, from 1978 to 1992, Wattleton transformed the organization into the politically engaged entity that it is today, while at the same time dramatically increasing its health-care services. Anticipating that the 1980s would bring many political challenges, Wattleton restructured the organization so that it could respond to the new environment created by the Ronald Reagan administration and the rise of the Religious Right. She also led Planned Parenthood's growth as a health-care provider. By the time she left the organization, it had more than 170 affiliates in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and operated more than 800 health centers.
In 1986, the American Humanist Association named her Humanist of the Year. She also was the author of an article for the Humanist on the topic of reproductive rights in 1986. In 1990, Wattleton, along with 15 other African American men and women, formed the African American Women for Reproductive Freedom.
In 1992, Wattleton received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. From 1992 to 1995, she hosted a Chicago-based talk show on television. In 1995, she served as the president of the Center for the Advancement of Women, (CFAW) which she helped found.
She was a 1993 inductee into the National Women's Hall of Fame. In 1996, she published her autobiography, Life on the Line. Also in 1996, she received the Margaret Sanger Woman of Valor Award.
She contributed the piece "Unfinished Agenda: Reproductive Rights" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.
She has a grown daughter named Felicia Gordon, who studied law at New York University. Wattleton and her husband divorced when their daughter was 6 years old.
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Faye Wattleton - 1986
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