- President of Planned Parenthood
- Founder of America Votes
- Founding member of America Coming Together
- Co-founder of the New Politics Institute
- Daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards (D)
The daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, veteran labor organizer and political operative Cecile Richards is the current President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Proteus Fund, and a former director of a national pro-choice project for the Turner Foundation.
In 1972 Richards worked on Sarah Weddington's political campaign for a seat in the Texas state legislature. Weddington was the attorney who would successfully argue the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
After graduating from Brown University in 1980, Richards began organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care, and janitorial industries in Texas, Louisiana, and California.
In 1995 Richards founded the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), which describes itself as a “mainstream voice to counter the religious right.” Based in Austin and composed of 28,000 members, TFN is devoted to “monitoring far-right issues, organizations, money and leaders.” TFN takes particular pride in having helped defeat a voucher initiative designed to help low-income parents send their children to private, rather than public, schools.
Richards says her passionate opposition to the "religious right" began in 1994, when, during the her mother’s gubernatorial race in Texas, she (Cecile Richards) perceived conservative religious voters as “angry, irrational” people who “were really on a mission to eradicate the state of [what they saw as] godless, pro-homosexual, anti-family elected officials.”
In 2003 Richards was one of the founding members of America Coming Together (ACT), the Shadow Party’s grassroots get-out-the-vote network. Also among ACT's founding officials and board members were Anne Bartley, Hillary Clinton, Brian Foucart, Gina Glantz, Rob Glaser, Jonathan Lewis, Ellen Malcolm, Rob McKay, Minyon Moore, Carl Pope, Steven Rosenthal, Jonathan T. Soros, and Antonio Villaraigosa.
In 2002 Richards was part of a team of activists whom Democrat lobbyist and strategist Harold Ickes assembled as a mastermind group to seek ways of circumventing the soft-money ban mandated by the recently passed McCain-Feingold Act. Other key members of this team included Gina Glantz, Ellen Malcolm, Steve Rosenthal, George Soros, and Andrew Stern. By early 2003, their efforts had led to the formation of the Media Fund.
In 2004 Richards founded and served as the President of America Votes, a national coalition of grassroots, pro-Democrat, get-out-the-vote organizations.
Also in 2004, Richards worked as deputy chief of staff to Rep. Nancy Pelosi and helped her to secure a position as the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives.
In 2005 Richards, in conjunction with Gina Glantz and New Democratic Network president Simon Rosenberg, formed the New Politics Institute, a leftist think thank.
On February 15, 2006, Richards was named President of PPFA, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
Richards also serves as President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA's self-identified "advocacy and political arm" which in early 2008 declared that it hoped to “deliver one million pro-choice voters to the polls in November.”
In addition, Richards oversees the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Political Action Committee, which is “committed to supporting pro-choice, pro-family planning candidates for federal office.”
Since August 2006 Richards has been writing a blog on The Huffington Post website, where she often characterizes efforts to limit abortions (particularly late-term abortions) as attempts to "deny quality, affordable healthcare and accurate information to millions of women."
In 2008 Richards endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for U.S. President, viewing him as "a leader who will improve access to quality health care for women, a partner who will support and protect a woman’s right to choose, and a president who will invest in prevention programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion.”
Over the years, Richards has made financial contributions to the political campaigns of several Democrats, most notably Howard Dean and John Kerry. She directs her support to candidates she believes will advance the cause of “economic justice,” which she defines as the effort to “reduce the gap between rich people and poor people in this country.”
She also has given money to such organizations as America Coming Together, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood, and Progressive Majority.
Richards is married to Kirk Adams, a labor organizer with the Service Employees International Union.