Twenty-four years ago, Barbara Zdravecky took the helm of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida that had a $1 million budget and no federal funding. Over the years the organization grew to cover one-third of Florida’s counties, serve more than 45,000 patients and hike its funds into the multimillions.
This week, the branch’s chief executive officer announced her retirement from a position at the health care provider she called “the honor of my life.”
“There’s always been a sort of stigma about Planned Parenthood and I’m very proud of the unveiling of that, I guess, and allowing people to stand up for what they believe in,” she said in a phone interview with the Bradenton Herald on Friday.
The 100-year-old organization has a number of health care services it offers — from vaccinations, to sex education, to HIV and STD testing, to pelvic exams and now hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals — but abortions are its most controversial service.
“It’s been a fight because the folks who are anti-Planned Parenthood truly don’t understand the impact of not being able to plan your family and the financial toll that it takes,” she said.
She will stay on as CEO until January 2018 as the organization searches for her replacement.
Zdravecky said it’s hard to say definitely what her future will hold, aside from spending more time with family, traveling, reading and resting. Being a community activist all her life, she said she would continue to support Planned Parenthood.
As CEO, she’s used to outlining every aspect of her schedule. But with her retirement, she hopes to take “a moratorium on planning,” she said with a laugh.