'Girls,' Tumblr and Latino Stars Keep Planned Parenthood Relevant

PHOTO: Rocsi Diaz poses for a photo during the Planned Parenthood annual gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 25, 2013 in Washington, DC.Kris Connor/Getty Images
Rocsi Diaz poses for a photo during the Planned Parenthood annual gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 25, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Planned Parenthood turned 97 this year, but the healthcare provider and powerful women's advocacy organization acts like a young adult.

That's not accidental -- it takes work to stay mentally youthful. Succeeding at that has not only helped the organization stay relevant for nearly a century, but also exert an incredible amount of power during those years.

The organization's annual gala in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening showcased how it intends to stay relevant to the next generation.

First of all, they honored Lena Dunham, the mastermind behind Girls and someone who has been called the voice of twenty-somethings the world over. The show has sparked discussions about everything from STDs to one-night stands.

And they gave their partner of the year award to Tumblr, the place where all the kids go to blog. Like a lot of forward-thinking companies, they've been using Tumblr to connect with a younger generation.

The company helped Planned Parenthood quietly launch a Tumblr site on a Friday evening about two years ago. By Monday morning it had 15,000 followers, mostly teens who have grown up in the digital age and who have turned to it as a way to ask anonymous questions when they may not be comfortable going to a clinic or picking up the phone.

The nation's young people are diverse, and Planned Parenthood recognizes that it needs to connect with a changing population to stay relevant. Half of all babies born today are born to non-whites.

The gala wasn't geared toward Latinos but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was honored for his dedication to protecting women's health care in Los Angeles. Rocsi Diaz, a 29-year-old Honduran-born Entertainment Tonight correspondent, played host.

Both of them made sure to recognize the nation's fastest growing demographic. Diaz joked about her pronunciation as she introduced Villaraigosa:

"I had to say his name with a Spanish accent, otherwise it would've come out so wrong," she quipped, rolling the "r" in his name with relish.

Villaraigosa then mixed both languages, giving a shoutout to his home state of California in Spanish. He lauded Planned Parenthood for their commitment to helping all women, no matter their immigration status.

"Documented and undocumented," he said, "they come to receive quality healthcare and all they have to do is walk through the door."

Planned Parenthood has devoted significant resources to trying to understand Latinos in recent months.

Latinos are less likely than other demographics to have access to healthcare and some rely on Planned Parenthood as a primary form of healthcare, not just for things like birth control.

A new Planned Parenthood poll of Latino adults on teen pregnancy found that a third of those surveyed think Latino teens have less access to birth control than other Americans. More than half also said it is more important for Latino teens to avoid pregnancy than other demographics.

The ethos at Planned Parenthood came through during an address on Friday morning by Fast Company editor Robert Safian, who said that you don't have to literally be a young person to succeed in today's world, but you have to be willing to think outside the box and open yourself to new ideas.