First Black Woman to Head Planned Parenthood Lands on Forbes List for Unlikely Career Pivot

by Xara Aziz
Sackler Center for Feminist Art

The first Black woman to head Planned Parenthood has long been known as a staunch advocate for women’s reproductive rights, but in an unexpected career move, she is now thinking through how to elevate the field of quantum computing.

Faye Wattleton is the co-founder, executive vice president and thought-leader of EeroQ, a company “engineering the next generation of quantum computers, using electrons trapped on the surface of superfluid helium,” according to its website.

A large part of its mission is to make a qubit, the hardware that will fuel computers and give them quantum power.

“Through the long years that I’ve spent on the battlefield of dealing with some of the most challenging ethical issues of our time, why wouldn’t I want to be involved?” Wattleton rhetorically asked in a Forbes feature story.

Wattleton’s impressive resume has landed her as a 2023 honoree on Forbes 50 Over 50, a list created to celebrate the achievements of those over 50 who are breaking new ground in various industries.

Wattleton is the only child to a Protestant minister mother and a construction worker father. She would go on to be awarded a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree from Columbia University.

By 1970, Wattleton would become president of her local Planned Parenthood in Dayton, Ohio, then served as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She has also held more than 20 board positions over 30 years at companies including Estée Lauder and Empire Blue Cross & Blue Shield. In 1995, she became the founder of a think tank called the Center for the Advancement of Women.

When asked where she gets her activism spirit in connection with her newfound love for quantum computing, she said, “For me, how do we use it for public good and to make the world a better place for more people?”

“Faye was the only person I knew who would really change the course of history,” said Nick Farina, a colleague of Wattleton, who advised Fortune 500 companies, VC firms and corporate quantum computing development consultancies. “I believe that someone who has changed the world already in one area, has acquired wisdom that will allow them to do so in others.”

Related Posts

Crown App