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Society / Featured Parties

Planned Parenthood’s New Rock Star President and a Surprise $1 Million Secret Donation Make This Vital Event a Roaring Success

How Ann Hobson Put Together a Dallas Luncheon That Exceeded All Expectations

BY // 03.08.19

When one of my closest girlfriends (really more like a sister), Ann Hobson, shared with me that she would be chairing the 2019 Planned Parenthood Luncheon my immediate response was: What can I do to help? Almost a year later, I got to see her shine at her best.

Hobson is known for her philanthropic work and I previously devoted one of my Bomb Girl features to her past successes. I know she loves a challenging goal and she sure as hell did a great job meeting and exceeding the one that Planned Parenthood posed her with (more on that in a moment).

The annual event, held this time at the Hilton Anatole, brought together a packed ballroom of supporters and donors who joined together with patients, advocates and elected officials to raise funds. All of the events that Hobson has chaired in the past have been beautiful as she has an exquisite eye and taste-level that is rarely equaled. However, the decor for this luncheon was minimal (save for a beautiful floral arrangement in shades of pink below the podium) as not to distract from the important messages and news being delivered that day.

Planned Parenthood is a resource for tens of thousands of Texas residents. The health care Planned Parenthood provides includes contraception (including long-acting, reversible contraceptives such as IUDs), sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, HIV testing, annual exams, breast, and cervical cancer screenings, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and safe, legal abortion.

Some of Planned Parenthood’s Texas stats are incredibly impressive. Of its 85,332 health care patients and health education clients, 89 percent are female and 11 percent are male. Additionally, 15,650 teens and parents receive health education to prevent teen pregnancy (with 58,200 packs of birth control pills distributed). And just as important are the 8,155 breast cancer exams and 6,806 cervical cancer screenings (with 565 HPV vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer provided).

I’m sure many are familiar with the event spaces at the Anatole, which seat hundreds of guests. I’ve been to too many lunches there to count and have always appreciated the fundraising that has been done in those ballrooms. However, at the Planned Parenthood Luncheon there was an unspoken, but massive sense of solidarity. As everyone in attendance truly believed in the mission and was there to see the organization grow to expand its needed services.

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I was concerned, having chatted with the soft-spoken keynote speaker during the lunch and before she went to the podium, that she would not be able to rally the packed room. I was wrong. Dr. Leana Wen — the new 36-year-old President of Planned Parenthood, who took over the position long held by Cecile Richards (daughter of the late, great former Texas Governor, Ann Richards) — built her remarks to a crescendo that galvanized all in attendance.

Wen shared that “as a patient, I depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care at various times in my own life, and as a public health leader I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities.”

Born in Shanghai, China, Wen immigrated to the United States with her family as a young girl. They were granted political asylum and later became United States citizens. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles at the impressive age of 18, and earned her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. She obtained her Master’s degrees at the University of Oxford and completed her residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School.

Her story is one of hard work and tenacity that led to her new role leading the organization, which serves nearly 2.5 million men and women each year through its more than 600 health centers across the country.

At the end of the program, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas President & CEO, Ken Lambrecht announced as the thermometer on the video screens jumped from $970,000 to $1,970,000 that a donor, who wished to remain anonymous, had been moved by the remarks and decided to contribute $1 million. Ann and Lee Hobson are truly a powerhouse couple when it comes to fundraising having just raised more than $850,000 the prior week at the 19th Annual Destiny Award Luncheon benefitting St. Philip’s School & Community Center Snyder Activity Center.

When the final total of donations collected for the Planned Parenthood Luncheon was revealed a few days after the event, I was pleased to see that it had reached the $2 million mark.

Home, chic home.

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