Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest CEO Chris Charbonneau Receives National Ruth Green Award

SEATTLE - On Thursday, March 18, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) presented the Ruth Green Award to Christine R. Charbonneau, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW). The award is given to a Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive chosen by her or his peers for outstanding leadership with board volunteers in planning, public affairs, and fundraising. It is one of the highest honors given to Planned Parenthood Affiliate CEOs for their work in carrying out the mission of Planned Parenthood. The award was presented at PPFA's National Conference Gala held in metropolitan Washington, DC, and celebrated by over 1,000 Planned Parenthood leaders who work every day to improve the health and lives of women across the nation.

"Chris Charbonneau is a true visionary among health care providers," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "Whether she is leading a merger or creating a business model to ensure low-cost contraceptives for hundreds of thousands American women, Chris has an uncanny ability to innovate and create stability for her organization at the same time. Chris's leadership has been instrumental in putting Planned Parenthood in a better position to deliver more health care to more people in more places."

The Ruth Green Award was established in 1981 to honor a remarkable and talented CEO who has served Planned Parenthood as a volunteer, an executive director and as an ambassador-at-large for the mission of Planned Parenthood. "Chris Charbonneau is richly deserving of this award and the recognition for a career, and a life, that is committed to the mission of Planned Parenthood," said Han Nachtrieb, PPGNW Board Chair. "Through her vision, PPGNW is launching a project to serve patients online, implementing electronic medical records, and broadening access to contraception for low income women.”

“Many of the successes mentioned are the cumulative efforts of many, if not thousands of people, all working to the same end.  This award honors my 500 employees, and nearly 1000 volunteers who actually do all of the work that we dream up for them to do!” said Charbonneau. “I could not ask for a better team on the ground.  As well, our PPGNW Board members are the most astute, risk-taking, nimble people and I am incredibly grateful for their partnership.  For the millions of women we all see, the people in the clinics or the classrooms or on the phone ARE Planned Parenthood, not the CEO of an affiliate.”   

Chris Charbonneau has been a CEO for Planned Parenthood affiliates for twenty-three years. She began as a volunteer in Seattle in 1982 as a sexuality educator and public policy volunteer. Chris started PP of Greater Arkansas in 1986. She left Arkansas in 1988 and returned to PP of Seattle-King County as COO, directing its 12 health centers.

In 1993 she became the CEO of PP of Seattle-King County leading the affiliate from a three million to a $17 million organization. In 1996, Chris led a three affiliate merger that created PP of Western Washington (PPWW). In 2008, Chris lead another three affiliate merger combining PP of Alaska, PP of Idaho, and PP of Western Washington to form PP of the Great Northwest (PPGNW). Charbonneau is currently the CEO of PPGNW, with 28 health centers in Alaska, Idaho, and western Washington, providing medical services and sexuality education for thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year.

Over the years, Chris has worked on six statewide referenda on a woman's right to choose in two different states, and helped to win five of those. This summer, she expects that PPGNW will defeat a similar initiative in Alaska.

Charbonneau's commitment to her mission and her staff includes supporting community educators who carry the message of family planning, and community organizers who educate the public and legislatures of Washington, Idaho and Alaska, about issues important to Planned Parenthood’s mission. Currently, in Washington State, PPGNW's on-the-ground political force is the second largest, only smaller than Service Employees International Union's. PPGNW's next challenges include expanding its laboratory services to help more Planned Parenthood affiliates offer affordable services, and the adoption of telemedicine technologies, so that the agency can serve people in the most remote places that PPGNW covers.

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