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Former Head Of Local Planned Parenthood Affiliate Departs From NY Affiliate Amid Scathing Criticism

2017_mcquade__laura.jpg_pp great plains
Planned Parenthood Great Plains
Laura McQuade was president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, based in Overland Park, from July 2014 to August 2017.

Laura McQuade led Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which is based in Overland Park and oversees clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, from July 2014 to August 2017.

The woman who once led the local Planned Parenthood affiliate has just stepped down as head of its New York affiliate after more than 300 workers there signed an open letter calling for her immediate removal.

The letter, which was disclosed by The Kansas City Star over the weekend, accused Laura McQuade of abusive behavior, financial mismanagement, failing to address problems of systemic racism and pay inequity, and overseeing unprecedented turnover of senior staff.

McQuade’s departure from Planned Parenthood of Greater New York was announced in a letter from its board to staff members on Monday. The letter stated the board had “parted ways” with McQuade and would be “moving fast to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership to move our organization forward in this challenging moment.”

It’s not clear from the letter if McQuade resigned or was fired. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York officials could not be reached for comment.

McQuade led Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which is based in Overland Park and oversees clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, from July 2014 to August 2017.

She emerged as a forceful and fearless advocate on behalf of the organization during a tumultuous period when the organization was under fire as those states sought to strip it of Medicaid funding and restrict its ability to perform abortions.

Her high profile here led to her hiring as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country. Before taking the reins of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, then known as Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, McQuade was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

The scorching letter by Planned Parenthood’s New York employees denounced McQuade for her leadership of the affiliate, saying she “has proven to be a toxic leader and autocrat” and had “created a culture of fear and intimidation.”

“Through abusive behavior and financial malfeasance, we have watched her fundamentally threaten the fiscal and operational viability of Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate and its 900 employees.”

Other concerns expressed in the letter included “years of complaints from staff about issues of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff,” and “dozens of staff members [who] have witnessed McQuade yell, berate, slam her fists, verbally abuse, humiliate, and bully employees.”

McQuade could not be reached for comment.

Members of Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ board of directors were unwilling to comment on the allegations in the employees’ letter or could not be reached for comment.

In a statement last week, Brandon Hill, president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said he had reviewed the letter as well as a statement of support by former employees of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

“The allegations raised in these documents are very serious, and the behavior described does not reflect our Planned Parenthood values,” he said.

“Planned Parenthood Great Plains is very different from two years ago. We have faced many operational, financial, and legislative challenges while remaining steadfast in our commitment to patient-centered care. However, our work is not done. Like many organizations, we have critical work to do to create racial equity in our workplace and to dismantle structural racism.

“Change requires tough conversations and introspection, and I am thankful for those working to move these dialogues forward.”