The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will retire today after 30 years as the head of the organization.

 

In her tenure with Planned Parenthood, Jill June guided the organization through multiple mergers, consolidations and expansions, all of which resulted in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, an organization that now encompasses 21 health centers across four states.

 

The belief that her work has made a difference in the lives of others is what has made every day both wonderful and worthwhile to June.

 

"My work has always been very important to me for both individuals and their families," she said. "When families are healthy, society benefits from that."  

 

June, 67, joined the organization in 1985, when it was still Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa.

 

"The prospect of working there thrilled me," she said. "I had been a volunteer there and a donor, and I just thought the people were exceptional. It was one of the best organizations I'd been associated with."

 

In 1998, June led Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit against the city of Bettendorf, to open a clinic providing family planning services, including medical and surgical abortion options, to women in the Quad Cities. After a judge ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood, June lived out of a mobile home for weeks to ensure that the center would open. She was nearly arrested in 2002 after she refused to disclose confidential patient information to prosecutors in Storm Lake as part of an investigation into the death of an abandoned newborn. The case received national attention, and as a result, June was honored as one of Ms. magazine's Women of the Year.

 

Throughout her career, June said she's embraced the concept of "servant leadership." She said she always felt it was her job to make sure those who worked with her had the resources necessary to do their jobs.

 

"My work (with them) really boiled down to that," she said. "If you can be clear about your priorities and understand the capacity of your resources and put those two together, you can move forward and achieve your goals."

 

Decades of work have taught her that the best thing women can do to advance professionally comes down to a simple, two-word phrase.

 

"Be yourself," June said. "We all need to improve, but be fearless and tenacious in taking on those improvements and changes. Your integrity is your greatest asset. Don't ever jeopardize the trust those you work with have in you."

 

Planned Parenthood has an online forum where those who knew June can send her into retirement with well wishes. Send her a message here.