Planned Parenthood names executive to succeed Cockrum

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Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. has chosen a new leader to replace Betty Cockrum, who is retiring after 15 years as president and CEO of the organization.

Longtime not-for-profit executive Christie Gillespie is set to take job July 1, PPINK announced Tuesday.

Christine Gillespie PPINK mugChristine Gillespie

Gillespie has been involved in not-for-profit leadership for more than 25 years, most recently as vice president for community impact with the United Way of Central Indiana.

She previously led the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside and the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development.

“I am thrilled to leave the organization in such capable hands,” Cockrum said in written comments. “Christie brings unparalleled leadership experience in public policy, strategic planning, fundraising and community engagement at a time when these issues have never been more critical.”

PPINK operates women’s health clinics that provide abortions as well as general health screenings, Pap tests, contraceptives and other services.

The organization has about 170 employees and an annual budget of $16 million. It is based on South Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis, and operates 17 clinics in Indiana and two in Kentucky.

“I believe that PPINK’s mission is more important than ever and am excited by the opportunity to lead this amazing organization,” Gillespie said in written remarks. “I have been a long-standing supporter of PPINK and am looking forward to ensuring the people of Indiana and Kentucky continue to receive the quality health care PPINK provides.”

The change in leadership comes as Planned Parenthood is facing increased opposition around the country and the possibility of decreased government funding.

The organization provided services to more than 55,000 patients in 2015, including more than 5,200 abortions. But, in recent years, visits to Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana have fallen sharply, due to more options for women’s services and less frequent need for Pap tests. That prompted it to close six health centers last year.

"Gillespie has an extensive understanding of our local political environment, strong connections with key PPINK constituents and a deep commitment to our mission,” PPINK Board Chairwoman Kim Greene said in a statement.

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