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.
“Marty’s commitment to Planned Parenthood and its mission was immediately evident when we began engaging her in the search process,” Roberta Herman, M.D, COO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and a PPLM board member, said in a statement. “Her roles as a legislator, lawyer and human resources executive have prepared her well to take on the role of PPLM’s chief executive officer.”
Herman headed the search committee that recommended Walz. A source with direct knowledge of the League’s decision told the Globe Walz was chosen over Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, who recently served as Health and Human Services secretary for Governor Deval Patrick’s administration.
Walz most recently served as the assistant vice chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and has focused on a number of education issues.
She served as House chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education during the 2009-2010 legislative session, and helped craft the state’s 2010 anti-bullying law.
She also supported the 2010 education law designed to overhaul the state’s worst schools, expand charter schools, and end the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds
Walz will also serve as President of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. She succeeds previous president and CEO Dianne Luby who announced her resignation in December after holding both titles for 13 years.
Walz is not the only Boston lawmaker giving up a legislative seat. State Senator John A. Hart Jr., a South Boston Democrat, announced earlier this week he is resigning to take a job at a law firm.
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