Planned Parenthood Finalists Include Familiar Name

Former Qwest boss Judy Peppler is in the running

Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette has been searching for a new CEO for several months, ever since conflict over a new contract with the Service Employees International Union led to the departure of former CEO David Greenberg from his $196,000-a-year post.

WW has learned that the search is down to two finalists—an internal candidate from a Planned Parenthood chapter in Florida, and a name that may be familiar to political and business insiders—Judy Peppler, formerly the Oregon president of what was then called Qwest, the telecom company now known as CenturyLink.

Peppler left that post in 2011 when CenturyLink bought Qwest; she enrolled in the Broad Academy, a program started by California billionaire Eli Broad that prepares corporate leaders for positions in public education. After finishing the academy, Peppler became the chief transformation officer in the Wake County, N.C., school district, which serves nearly 150,000 students, about three times the number in Portland Public Schools.

Peppler left that job in October, according to news reports, after the school board fired the superintendent who'd hired her 13 months earlier. 

Peppler was a visible presence in Portland's business community before leaving the state. In 2006, she was named the second-ever chairwoman of the Portland Business Alliance. A Republican, she was a "bundler" or leading fundraiser for U.S. Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his 2008 presidential run and contributed $1,000 to GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley in 2010 and made remarks at forum for business leaders during that campaign that could raise eyebrows among the progressives who are Planned Parenthood's core supporters.

Here's how The Oregonian characterized her comments:

But Peppler's management skills are probably more important than her politics. Planned Parenthood is substantial by local non-profit standards—it has a $20 million budget, employs 218 people and serves 60,000 clients annually. 

Peppler could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Planned Parenthood board is expected to name its new CEO as early as this afternoon.