President & CEO
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
Location: St. Louis, MO
More than three years ago, Yamelsie Rodriguez left “a comfortable job in a progressive state where Planned Parenthood is a welcomed and respected healthcare provider, educator and advocate.”
She took her 18 years of experience and skills to lead Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLRSWMO), becoming the organization’s first Latina CEO.
“I watched from afar how little by little the state was ripping apart reproductive freedom. I wanted to do my part to transform how reproductive healthcare is provided and protected in a red state like Missouri,” Rodriguez said. “Little did I know that the first three years as CEO would involve managing a global pandemic, unprecedented national political discourse and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. While the risks have never been higher, a sea change is coming, and I know we'll come out stronger on the other side.”
Rodriguez moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico and started her career as a Planned Parenthood health center translator for Spanish-speaking patients, working her way up until she was offered the opportunity to take over the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri operation.
Her team credits Rodriguez with using “innovative thinking and out-of-the-box ideas to deliver care (to) make Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri a leader in delivering comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare in the Midwest.”
Rodriguez came into her new role as CEO during attacks on abortion access across the country, including the state of Missouri coming after the last abortion clinic in the state — the Central West End Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis. Rodriguez continues to fight back to ensure patients can access sexual and reproductive healthcare.
“The goal in the next five years is to empower communities to fight back and demand better for every person who needs access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare,” Rodriguez’s team said.
Under Rodriguez’s leadership, PPSLRSWMO opened the first-of-its-kind Regional Logistic Center to navigate abortion patients in Illinois. She also helped launch the affiliate's first rural health center in Rolla, Missouri, and the first Planned Parenthood mobile abortion clinic.
“Leading Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is the privilege of a lifetime,” Rodriguez said. “I feel honored to work with the most committed, mission-oriented individuals who sacrifice much of their personal and family time to provide lifesaving healthcare to thousands of individuals every year. They are the reason why we've been here for 90 years and aren't going anywhere!”
At eight years old Yamelsie learned to play the piano and she continues to play today.