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President of PPFA’s largest affiliate ousted following complaints of abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement

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When its president and CEO Laura McQuade came under a withering attack from former and currently employees on a plethora of grounds, the board of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York apologized for various institutional shortcomings but said it “fully supports the work and leadership of Laura McQuade and her team and commits to continuing the transformation that will make us a stronger, more equitable organization for our staff and communities.”

That was Friday.

Different story on Monday.

Reporting today for the Kansas City Star, Bryan Lowry and Judy L. Thomas wrote

The former CEO of Planned Parenthood’s Kansas City-area office has stepped down as head of the abortion provider’s largest affiliate following allegations of abusive behavior and systemic racism from current and former staff.

The board of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced Monday to staff members that it had “parted ways” with according to an internal memo obtained by The Star. Before taking the reins of the New York office, McQuade had led Planned Parenthood Great Plains from July 2014 through August 2017.

“We will be moving fast to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership to move our organization forward in this challenging moment,” the memo said. “Our highest priority is to best serve our patients and to ensure our employees feel valued.”

Given the volatile mix of alleged personal abusiveness, “systematic racism,” and questions about financial accountability raised in an “Open Letter” signed by more than 300 employees, it was difficult to believe McQuade could possibly survive. If there was any chance, that probably vanished with the revelation in a story Thomas and Lowry wrote last Friday that Elise Higgins, a former lobbyist in Kansas for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said “that concerns the New York affiliate is raising about McQuade’s behavior are identical to those the staff experienced here.

“There was a massive amount of staff turnover during Laura’s tenure,” Higgins said. “Laura frequently yelled at staff both in private and in meetings with their peers and belittled and ridiculed.

“The way that displeasure was voiced created a culture of fear.”

The website that published the “Open Letter” wrote a brief update today:

The Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Board of Directors has announced that they have parted ways with Laura McQuade. While we know that there is still work to do, we are happy for this victory. Thank you to everyone who helped us with this important win.

The people united will never be defeated.

As NRL News Today reported yesterday, under the heading Abusive Behavior,” we read

Dozens of staff members have witnessed McQuade yell, berate, slam her fists, verbally abuse, humiliate, and bully employees, often brutally shaming staff members in internal meetings in front of their colleagues. This behavior is out of line for anyone, let alone the CEO of a “progressive” organization. After countless complaints, a law firm was hired by the board to investigate these allegations. The firm interviewed staff members at all levels, including senior leaders, many providing documented evidence of this pattern of behavior. The cost of this, and other investigations into her behavior, was likely significant and has led to no positive organizational change.

With regard to the issue of fiscal mismanagement and McQuade’s salary, Thomas and Lowry wrote, “Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s 2018 tax filing — the most recent one available — shows the organization had a $57.4 million budget. McQuade’s total compensation that year was $428,321. The letter signed by New York employees says the organization has lost the $18 million surplus it had when McQuade took over and now has a projected deficit of $6.2 million for the six months of 2020, calculated before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As of when the story was written, McQuade could not be reached for comment and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate, had no comment.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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