Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

My Illegal Abortion

My Illegal Abortion

More From Faye

In this video

Wattleton describes getting an illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade and why it's vital that she continues to talk about it.

Faye's Biography

Charity of Choice: Jazz at Lincoln Center and Sister Song
Preacher Mom: As a child, she travelled all around the country with her mother, an evangelical minister. 
Paying for College: She put herself through college working at a pediatric hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
A First: In 2012, she became one of the first 15 recipients of the “First” awards, honoring women who are first in their fields and designed by artist Judy Chicago.

African American social activist, author, and businesswoman, Faye Wattleton has dedicated her life to preserving and protecting the rights of women, first as an advocate for reproductive self-determination and later as a catalyst for gender equality. Wattleton, born in St. Louis, Missouri, became interested in obstetrical care during her studies at Ohio State University. She graduated with a nursing degree in 1964, and three years later earned a graduate degree in maternal and infant care from Columbia University. Wattleton has said that choosing a career in nursing was perhaps her most important professional decision as it engendered in her a determination and commitment not to compromise on the gains that women have made with respect to reproductive choice.
 
In 1978, as the youngest President, first African American, and first woman to lead Planned Parenthood since its founding in 1942, Wattleton shepherded the organization through years of often violent attacks on clinics and legislative backlash. By the end of her tenure in 1992, a restructured Planned Parenthood had grown to become the nation’s seventh largest nonprofit organization, with an aggregate budget of $500 million, providing medical and educational services to four million Americans each year. In 1995, she co-founded the independent think tank, the Center for the Advancement of Women, conducting women-focused national research.
 
Wattleton has served on the board and advisory councils of many nonprofit and corporate organizations including Savient Pharmaceuticals, Estee Lauder Companies, and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. She is currently on the boards of Columbia University, the New York Blood Center, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2010, Wattleton joined Alvarez & Marsal, a global services firm, as a managing director. Wattleton has received 14 honorary degrees and numerous awards over the course of her career and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Related Videos

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Long before Ruth Bader Ginsburg became only the second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, she broke countless legal and professional barriers for women. Raised in a wo...

Brandon Holley
Brandon Holley
Fashion Editor-in-Chief

Brandon Holley is the former Editor-in-Chief for Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style. She began her magazine career as a writer for Paper, which eventually l...

Karen Nussbaum
Karen Nussbaum
Founder of 9to5 First Union for Secretaries

Karen Nussbaum is an activist, labor leader, and founder of 9to5, a pioneering labor organization for female clerical workers. She has also served as Director of the Women’s ...

Rebecca Morris
Rebecca Morris
Abstract Painter

Rebecca Morris is known for revitalizing abstract painting through her acclaimed artwork. Among her many accomplishments, Morris is the recipient of the 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship,...