From volunteer to V.P.: Planned Parenthood’s Nora Vargas shares amazing career journey

Region’s Largest Reproductive Health Care Provider Extends Access with Affordable Care Act

“I would never have imagined that I would become an executive at Planned Parenthood,” says Nora Vargas, Vice President of Government and Community Relations for the reproductive healthcare provider’s three-county Pacific Southwest region. “Having had a CEO who saw something in me I didn’t see in myself, taking a risk and enabling me to take on a new role, changed my life.”

Vargas shares in the July Pulse podcast how important professional development is to her and to the region’s 600 Planned Parenthood employees who so often are driven by “a passion and commitment to providing access to services for women and families.”

Serving 300,000 patients last year in the Pacific Southwest, Planned Parenthood has a three-pronged mission:

  1. Reproductive health care services

  2. Education

  3. Public affairs/advocacy

For Vargas, who grew up in Tijuana and became the first Latina vice president at Planned Parenthood in 2001, “it’s been an amazing journey,” starting as a volunteer at the organization more than 20 years ago. She assumed her current post seven years ago, overseeing education and public affairs initiatives in three counties, San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial, as well as a binational program with Mexico. “There’s a broad spectrum of workers needed at Planned Parenthood,” she says, listing roles from nurse practitioners and physician assistants to IT and billing specialists as well as educators.

One in five women rely on Planned Parenthood for their birth control or reproductive health services, Vargas confirms, with the Affordable Care Act extending access and driving more patients into Planned Parenthood’s clinics. However, because reimbursement rates through Medi-Cal are among the lowest in the nation, there are not enough clinicians serving poor and disabled people, particularly in rural areas.

Educating legislators and the public about the need for a sustainable system of care is a big emphasis of Vargas’ work. Planned Parenthood also recently opened a clinic in Imperial County, where it is the first and only abortion provider in that community. “Of course, we are the largest abortion prevention provider because of all the education work we do.”

Listen here: From Volunteer to V.P.: Planned Parenthood’s Nora Vargas Shares Amazing Career Journey (The Pulse audio)

To listen to previous episodes of the Pulse, visit our archives page on UCTV’s Career Channel.

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