Thursday, December 2, 2010

Iron fist in a velvet glove

Some days I think my job is tough. And then I'll go to a Planned Parenthood Mar Monte board meeting and see how very easy and trivial the task of a high tech CEO can be.

Linda Williams is a little, grey-haired lady with a twinkle in her eye. She's funny, caring and makes you initially feel that she is a gentle sweetie. Ha! no way. Linda is the CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. It's the largest of the Planned Parenthood affiliates and covers much of California and Nevada. And it's a target.

Planned Parenthood is known for abortion. But the reality is less than 3% of the services provided are actually abortion - the majority are sexual health - and most often for those in our community that desperately need the help. Young teens, and the poor without good health insurance. It does so much good, and although most people (70%) if asked believe a women should have the rights to her body, there is an active group who aggressively oppose the work - and this is the group Linda deals with every day.

Mountain View online ran a terrific interview with Linda earlier this week - worth a read to see what a really tough CEO looks like. The interview is about PPMM more than Linda, but knowing what she has dealt with over the last 20+ years - protestors, blockades, threats, incompetent politicians, a broken California budget... - and knowing how she deals with it all with an iron spine, biting wit and determination I can only admire her. And think how we in tech really have it easy in comparison to the vocation it takes to build and run PPMM.

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