Placement Spotlight: Jennifer Welch
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Jennifer reflects on her experience as a candidate for the role of president & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois and her proudest accomplishments since taking the helm.
Before Jennifer Welch, JD, was thrust into the national spotlight in her current role as CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL), she had a long and impressive history in public service, including nonprofit and government leadership roles in the health and human services fields. In fact, her CV reflects a 30+ year professional journey that touches on all of the ideal qualifications for her current role.
It’s not a surprise, then, that she was one of the first people to come to mind when Michelle Saddler, managing director and principal at Kittleman, partnered with PPIL in their search for a new CEO over six years ago.
Michelle was acquainted with Jennifer and already familiar with her work, which reflected Jennifer’s passion for serving her community’s most vulnerable populations—particularly women. When Michelle contacted her about the CEO opportunity at PPIL, Jennifer says she was thrilled.
“It felt like the culmination of everything I’d been working for,” she says.
Jennifer had worked for PPIL previously, so she was knowledgeable about the organization, but she still had plenty of questions. She says that Michelle’s insight into the position and the nonprofit landscape in general was extremely valuable during the search process.
“Because Michelle had extensive knowledge about my work and the position, she was able to tie her observations about me to the skills needed for the role,” says Jennifer. “She was able to affirm for me that I was the right fit for the job.”
Jennifer and the PPIL team have achieved impressive growth since she became CEO, despite experiencing huge losses in federal funding. Expansion efforts to address health disparities in the state and tackle the high STI rate in Chicago were already well underway when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade last year, causing an unprecedented spike in demand for their services. PPIL remains committed to caring for everyone who walks through their doors, welcoming patients from 35 different states to their 17 health centers across the state.
Under Jennifer’s leadership, PPIL has doubled the size of two of their health centers and is in the process of adding one more location, increasing access to care. Last year, PPIL served more than 66,000 patients for the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care including abortion, birth control, and gender-affirming hormone therapy, a service that can be very difficult to access in the middle of the state.
To further meet demand for their services, PPIL was the first to create a partnership with another state, inviting providers from Wisconsin to care for patients in Illinois a few times a week.
None of these accomplishments have come as a surprise to Michelle, who saw the compassion and drive that make Jennifer so successful shine through in her earlier work. Michelle continues to follow her career and their relationship has continued.
Michelle was in touch with Jennifer regularly after she took the reins at PPIL, a standard practice for Kittleman’s principals. From helping to develop the onboarding plan to checking in with the new CEO and the board up to the first anniversary of employment, Kittleman helps ensure a smooth transition—an aspect of her experience Jennifer says she appreciated.
“Kittleman’s staff have so much experience in the nonprofit sector and know the field so well that I felt well supported and confident in my decision,” she says.
Kittleman & Associates is proud of the partnerships and the relationships we’ve forged and nurtured in the sixty years we’ve been in business, and we’re honored to have played a role in Jennifer’s professional journey. Thank you for helping us celebrate our 60th anniversary by sharing your story, Jennifer!