More than 600 students were awarded masters and doctoral degrees from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health on May 17. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, delivered the keynote address and received the Mailman School of Public Health Visionary Leadership Award.
“Cecile Richards exemplifies the quality of public health leadership to which our students aspire,” said Dean Linda P. Fried, and DeLamar Professor of Public Health Practice. “Ms. Richards heads the leading organization dedicated to ensuring access to reproductive and sexual health in the country with wisdom, compassion, and effectiveness. Richards, 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 to build a healthier and safer world for all, Richards, in her role at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is a major figure in 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 oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the biggest abortion case in decades.
“I am truly honored to speak at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health’s commencement ceremony this May,” said Ms. Richards. “At Planned Parenthood we see firsthand how important it is to work with public health experts who understand that reproductive health is essential to leading a full and healthy life. The Mailman School produces these experts. 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. I can’t wait to see what they do.”
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 year, Planned Parenthood remains committed to providing comprehensive reproductive health care services, to advocate for public policies that guarantee these rights, and to educate and inform all audiences about reproductive and sexual health.
Graduating student Arielle Juberg delivered remarks on behalf of the Mailman School graduating class. Ms. Juberg earned a Master of Public Health degree in Population and Family Health with a certificate in Public Health and Humanitarian Assistance. She served as a graduate research assistant with the School’s Averting Maternal Death and Disability program and during the summer of 2015, worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reduce peer violence among young men and prevent gender-based violence.