Between them, Bill and Marisa Rastetter pursue a variety of interests and endeavors. He sits on the boards of six biotech companies, and also takes photographs that are exhibited in two La Jolla galleries. She’s an attorney who represents underprivileged clients, and is an accomplished triathlete.
One interest they hold in common — along with their devotion to each other — is support for the mission of Planned Parenthood of the Southwest, which provides a variety of health services for women and men in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties.
“Planned Parenthood provides health care services to thousands of people,” said Bill. It is especially important to the couple, he said, that the organization is accessible to under-served populations, from teens who need information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, to adults who need screening for breast cancer.
The couple, who maintain homes in Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla, were chosen as co-chairs of Planned Parenthood’s 52nd anniversary dinner, which will be held April 7 at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego. Tickets are still available, and about 1,000 attendees are expected.
The featured speaker at the event will be Jonathan Eig, author of the book, “Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.”
The event is an important fundraiser for the group; last year, Planned Parenthood raised about $1.1 million from the anniversary dinner, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Coburn.
Money raised by the event will go toward capital projects, such as new and remodeled health centers across the three counties served by Planned Parenthood of the Southwest, said Marisa. The group’s 20th center will open shortly in El Centro.
According to the group’s annual report for 2012, Planned Parenthood handled 304,000 medical visits during that year, with about 5 percent for abortion-related services, and the other 95 percent for cancer screenings, gynecological services, contraception and STD treatment or screening.
The organization accepts Medi-Cal and private insurance, and offers treatment to non-insured people on a sliding scale based on their income.
“Whether the patient is insured or uninsured, Planned Parenthood is there to help them,” said Bill.
Planned Parenthood provides an important option to women as many states enact new laws restricting reproductive choice, Marisa said. “You think the fight is over, that women get to choose what they do with their bodies, and unfortunately it’s not.”
The couple met in the swimming pool at the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla, and have been married for nine years.
They still swim together, as Marisa prepares for upcoming triathlon competitions. Although she suffered a herniated disc in her back and can’t ride a bike right now, she is training for a 54-mile ultra-marathon to be held in South Africa in May. She also hopes her back injury will be healed in time for a World Championship triathlon competition set for September in Chicago.
Professionally, Marisa volunteers with a San Diego legal group, representing relatives of abused or neglected children in custody cases.
Bill, who holds degrees from MIT and Harvard, joined IDEC Pharmaceuticals at its founding and helped grow it to a multibillion-dollar company as its chairman and CEO.
His passion for photography began when his mom gave him a Kodak box camera at age 11. He now pursues his art “whenever the inspiration strikes me,” he said. The work he exhibits at two La Jolla galleries includes a series of seascapes in which the camera shutter was left open for as long as 10 minutes.
Another series, which he calls “mash-ups,” consist of two images superimposed over each other, including shots of street graffiti photographed during a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2014.
For information about Planned Parenthood of the Southwest, and to order tickets for the April 7 anniversary dinner, visit www.planned.org/dinner.
For information about Bill Rastetter’s photography, visit billrastetter.com.