Planned Parenthood leader Barbara Zdravecky retiring

Barbara Zdravecky, who has served as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida since 1993, is stepping down.

Her departure is effective January 2018.

During her tenure, the Sarasota-based organization, which until 2015 was simply known as Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida, served over 45,000 patients at its 11 health care clinics in 22 counties throughout Florida.

“While extending the services, reach and resources of our organization, Barbara led countless battles against relentless legislative efforts to block access to abortion and damage the reputation and financial stability of Planned Parenthood,” said incoming board chair Laurie Cowan Phillips and outgoing chair Carolyn Johnson in a joint statement.

A native of Pennsylvania, Zdravecky escaped the northeast and moved to Manatee County, where she became first became a social worker before relocating to Key West, where she helped start the First Hospice Program in Key West, primarily caring for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve in this great movement,” Zdravecky told her staff Thursday. “This has been the passion and honor of my life.”

Despite the fact that the GOP-led Congress has worked toward defunding the agency, it’s more popular than ever.

Earlier this year, more than 500 people attended the annual Planned Parenthood fundraising luncheon in Tampa at the Jewish Community Center, with Slate legal writer Dahlia Lithwick as the keynote speaker.

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