State Representative Martha “Marty” Walz is leaving state government to lead Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts announced Wednesday its board voted to hire the Boston Democrat as the organization’s president and chief executive officer.
Walz, who represents the Back Bay, portions of Beacon Hill and the West End, and parts of Cambridge, plans to resign her seat in mid-February before joining Planned Parenthood in March. She was first elected to office in 2005.
“While I will miss serving in the House of Representatives, I could not pass up this opportunity,” Walz said in a statement. “The debates heard during the passage of the Affordable Care Act and throughout last year’s elections make it clear that we must never take for granted a woman’s right to make personal medical decisions. I look forward to protecting that right and ensuring that all women have the health care they need and deserve.”
Planned Parenthood, the largest freestanding reproductive health care provider in the state, holds 48,000 patient visits per year at seven health centers, and its education programs reach more than 40,000 students, parents and professionals.
During her tenure on Beacon Hill, Walz sponsored a 2007 law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around staff and patients visiting family planning clinics, and has supported family planning funding, teen pregnancy prevention programs, and health education.
Walz, 51, was chosen by Planned Parenthood over Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, who recently served as Health and Human Services secretary for Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, a source told the Globe.
Walz serves as a vice chair on the House Committee on Ways and Means.
She has been a major player on Beacon Hill, especially after she helped create one the nation’s comprehensive anti-bullying laws in 2010. Under the law, school districts were required to submit plans to combat bullying to the state. The law was enacted after 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, of South Hadley, committed suicide because of bullying.
Walz was also the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education during the 2009-10 legislative session, as well as a member of the Federal Stimulus Oversight Committee and Executive Committee of the Caucus of Women Legislators.
Among other accomplishments, Walz is a member of the Early Education and Care Council, which helps advise the Department of Early Education and Care with after-school services and early education for families.
Walz is joining Planned Parenthood -- an organization that looks to “protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice,” according to the Massachusetts League’s website -- after its previous president and CEO Dianne Luby announced her resignation in December. Luby served both positions for 13 years.
During the search, the league’s chair of the board of directors, Nonnie S. Burnes, served as the interim CEO.
Walz has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Havard University, as well as a juris doctorate from New York University School of Law.