After living in New York and working at J.P. Morgan on Wall Street for seven years, Debby D’Arcangelo moved with her family to West Windsor and took a job in the development office of The Lawrenceville School. As part of her duties there, she drove students into Trenton to work with inner city children as part of their community service requirements.
Something clicked during those two years. “I realized I wanted to work with communities in need,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo, who was recently named the new president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. “I went on to work for Isles in Trenton. And I really appreciated their mission of helping people help themselves. I stayed for six years and I learned a lot about people. We all have the same needs, no matter our backgrounds. We all have so much in common.”
Ms. D’Arcangelo, her husband and daughter moved to Trenton 12 years ago. While at Isles, she directed her first capital campaign. She decided to pursue a secondary degree, earning a Masters in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After leaving Isles, she began doing community service full-time, joining the boards of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Princeton, the New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the NAACP Trenton Branch.
Chief among them was the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. Seven years on the organization’s board, including a run as treasurer, followed by nine months as its interim CEO, led to her current appointment.
“We are so fortunate to have such a talented, knowledgeable, and committed former trustee who can guide the organization through this important period,” said Carol Golden, board chair, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to continued success at Planned Parenthood under Debby’s leadership.”
As the new CEO of the organization, Ms. D’Arcangelo is facing many challenges. “The state budget cuts for family planning, now in their third cycle, are the biggest,” she says. “There is so much need in Mercer County, especially in Trenton, for reproductive health. For a lot of our clientele, we are their only health care source. The legislature has repeatedly voted to restore the cuts, but Governor Christie repeatedly vetoes it.”
Planned Parenthood has three health centers in Mercer County, in Trenton, on the campus of the College of New Jersey, and in Hamilton Township. Patients are charged on a sliding fee scale that goes all the way down to zero if necessary, based on income and family size. Demand has risen in recent years, as unemployment and a sagging economy have taken health benefits away from many who had them in the past.
Despite the uptick, the level of care has continued, Ms. D’Arcangelo says. “It’s the quality of the care we provide that’s the most important thing,” she says. “Planned Parenthood has extremely high quality standards and guidelines. Whatever our patients need, they are getting the best care. And that doesn’t change.”
Planned Parenthood, which is based in Trenton with a staff of 40, offers cancer screenings as well as family planning services. “We can identify something in its early stages,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo. “It’s not just good public policy, it’s a good investment.”
Statistics say that one in five women has gone to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives. The numbers also report that 70 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the organization. That means 30 percent do not.
“The vocal minority is a constant issue, and it can get loud,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo. “But we have wonderful local support. A big part of the job is raising funds, and the Princeton community is very generous and supportive of our mission. So my job is probably not as difficult as it might be elsewhere. We’re known for the support we receive.”