BOSTON State Rep. Marty Walz, a Back Bay Democrat, will resign from the House next month to become the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, the latest in a string of lawmakers to announce plans to leave the State House not long after winning re-election.
Walz, 51, plans to resign the seat in mid-February after starting her fifth term in the House of Representatives earlier this month, and will join Planned Parenthood in early March.
The board of Planned Parenthood voted Tuesday night to approve Walz’s hiring following a search led by PPLM board member Roberta Herman, the chief operating officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
“While I will miss serving in the House of Representatives, I could not pass up this opportunity. The debates heard during the passage of the Affordable Care Act and throughout last year’s elections make it clear that we must never take for granted a woman’s right to make personal medical decisions. I look forward to protecting that right and ensuring that all women have the health care they need and deserve,” Walz said in a statement.
She later told the News Service that while she loved being a legislator and will miss serving in the House, it was also time for a change.
Walz has represented the 8th Suffolk District in the House since 2005, and last session served as assistant vice chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Her district includes the Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods in Boston and parts of Cambridge.
In 2007, Walz was the lead sponsor of a bill that created a 35-foot buffer zone to protect the privacy and safety of patients visiting family planning clinics in Massachusetts. As a past chair of the Committee on Education, Walz also developed anti-bullying legislation passed in 2010 following the suicide of South Hadley teen Phoebe Prince.
“Marty’s commitment to Planned Parenthood and its mission was immediately evident when we began engaging her in the search process,” Herman said in a statement. “Her roles as a legislator, lawyer and human resources executive have prepared her well to take on the role of PPLM’s chief executive officer.”
In her new capacity, Walz will also become president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts.
Her departure follows a string of exits by lawmakers in early 2013 that will add to a list of special elections. Sen. Jack Hart announced Monday that he would leave the Senate after 16 years on Beacon Hill to join the law firm of Nelson Mullins.
Special elections have also been scheduled to fill the seat of Joyce Spiliotis, who passed away after her reelection, and Stephen “Stat” Smith, who resigned as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office over voter fraud charges.
Rep. David Sullivan, a Fall River Democrat, also plans to resign soon, once his contract to become the new executive director of the Fall River Housing Authority is finalized.