Faye Wattleton made a name for herself as an activist when she led Planned Parenthood in 1978, becoming the first black woman to do so. Now 80, and retired, she is a sought-after women’s rights activist and governance expert.
However, Wattleton has her eyes set on another venture — computers — despite her limited knowledge in the field. According to Forbes, she was presented with the opportunity to co-found a quantum computing company. She took the opportunity and today, she is the vice president of EeroQ, managing the company’s mission to make hardware that will fuel computers and give them quantum power.
“Through the long years that I’ve spent on the battlefield of dealing with some of the most challenging ethical issues of our time, why wouldn’t I want to be involved?” Wattleton told Forbes in an interview.
EeroQ has $8.35 million in funding from B Capital, among others. It is also preparing for a Series A raise and plans to launch its first qubit in less than two years. When the company started, the founders were not bent on raising capital because they were not ready to guarantee investors’ returns.
According to Forbes, the company is “setting themselves apart from their competition by using single electrons and superfluid helium in their hardware”, which the founders say will allow them to build a “scalable quantum computer in reverse.”
Wattleton said she is expecting the quantum computers to be available to larger corporations who will use them to achieve higher profits. According to her, quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize several industries, like research into drug therapies, combating climate change, food production, and mineral exploration, among others.
Wattleton comes from St. Louis, Missouri. She is the only child of her parents. Her mother was a Protestant minister while her dad was a construction worker. She got her bachelor’s degree in nursing in the early 1960s and got a scholarship to pursue a master’s of science at Columbia University.
She became president of her local Planned Parenthood in Dayton, Ohio during the height of the women’s movement, before serving as the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She also served on more than 20 boards after leaving PPFA.
Wattleton was advising on board governance as a managing director at a New York-based consulting firm when Nick Farina and Johannes Pollanen approached her to help found EeroQ, saying they needed her leadership experience.