It’s always a difficult time to run a Planned Parenthood, but these days the hot seat is even hotter.
The country is divided. The Trump administration is hostile. And Stephanie Fraim Kight, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida with its 37,000 patients spread across 11 offices in 22 counties, faces the additional challenge of taking over after 24 years of CEO Barbara Zdrevecky’s leadership.
But Fraim Kight is not new to the organization or to the fight for social justice. Straight out of college as a communications major, Fraim Kight, who grew up on an Ohio farm, was hired by the YWCA to work in public relations. The experience transformed her.
“Their motto was the elimination of racism by any means necessary,” she says. “I learned that social justice work almost always centers on women’s rights. And I learned from the women there about being big, bold, bad and controversial.”
Fraim Kight used that sense of purpose as she went on to work for foster children and the homeless before becoming an executive at California Planned Parenthoods, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (everything but Cincinnati) and senior vice president, brand and marketing, for Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, D.C.
With her megawatt smile, Fraim Kight doesn’t come across as bad or controversial. Instead, she is using her business and marketing smarts to try and bring leaders from the school system to Girl Scouts to the table—never easy here in Southwest Florida—by “keeping the temperature down” so people can hear one another.
“We need to make sure every young person has comprehensive, respectful, accurate reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood doesn’t have to be the only delivery system,” she says, adding that families, churches and classrooms are all part of forming a teen’s sexual values. “But the mechanics of sexual and reproductive health? We can be the underpinning because of our deep knowledge.”