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Komen president leaving, founder taking new role

DALLAS — Nancy Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, will leave her post as chief executive, and its president will resign, the group announced Wednesday in the most significant leadership shake-up to follow the short-lived attempt to cut financing for breast cancer services provided by Planned Parenthood

In a statement, Komen called the changes "a new period of transition," and said Brinker would move to a new management role focusing on revenue creation, strategy and global growth. Komen's president, Liz Thompson, plans to leave in September, the statement said.

In a controversy that prompted the resignations of several senior executives, Komen announced in January that it planned to eliminate most financing for breast cancer education and screening by Planned Parenthood. Among its services, Planned Parenthood provides birth control and abortions, which several Komen executives opposed.

The decision provoked a national furor among abortion rights groups, forcing Komen to reverse itself. But doing so did not quell calls for a leadership shakeup that for many included Brinker's resignation.

Brinker founded the organization in 1982 after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died of breast cancer. The organization says it has invested more than $740 million in breast cancer research.

In the statement, Brinker praised Thompson, but vowed to press forward.

"Our mission is clear and consistent, and will never change, regardless of the controversy earlier this year," Brinker said.

"We are doing everything in our power to ensure that women have access to quality cancer care and the support that they need, as we seek answers through cutting-edge research."

Board members Brenda Lauderback and Linda Law also are stepping down, the organization said.

Thompson said she hasn't taken another job. In a joint interview for the Wall Street Journal with Brinker, Thompson said she is leaving Komen with a "heavy heart" after four years there but that the "time is right" because there is new energy in the organization and she has accomplished her goal to improve Komen's reporting and grant-making strategy in supporting breast-cancer research.

Brinker founded the organization in 1982, two years after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died of breast cancer. Thompson joined the group in 2008 to head research and scientific programs, and she was promoted to president in 2010.

According to the statement, which makes no reference to the Planned Parenthood decision or fallout, Thompson said the time was right for her to pursue other opportunities.

Brinker said she assumed the chief executive's duties at the request of the foundation's board in 2009.

"Three years into that role, and 32 years after my promise to my sister to end breast cancer, I want now to focus on Susan G. Komen's global mission and raising resources to bring our promise to women all around the world," she said.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, praised both women for their "profound contributions to women's health."

Organizers of individual Race for the Cure events saw participation decline by as much as 30 percent in fallout from the controversy. Most also saw their fundraising numbers sink, although a couple of races brought in more money.

The foundation has invested $1.3 billion in community programs over 30 years to pay for screenings, education, and financial and psychological support for those fighting breast cancer, according to Komen's statement.

Information from the New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

The Komen controversy

Jan. 31, 2011: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, announcs that it is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates. The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — an inquiry launched by conservative Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala, who was urged to act by antiabortion groups, including by Americans United for Life. Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 in 2010 and $580,000 in 2011, going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services.

Feb. 3: After three days of criticism on the Internet and in Congress, Komen abandons its plan to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

Feb. 7: Karen Handel, Komen's vice president for public policy, resigns. Handel said the breast cancer charity should have stood by its decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

March 22: Komen announces the resignations of five more executives.

Times wires

The Komen controversy

Jan. 31, 2011: Susan G. Komen for the Cure announces that it is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates. The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — an inquiry launched by conservative Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala, who was urged to act by antiabortion groups, including by Americans United for Life. Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 in 2010 and $580,000 in 2011, going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services.

Feb. 3: After days of criticism on the Internet and in Congress, Komen abandons its plan to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

Feb. 7: Karen Handel, Komen's vice president for public policy, resigns. Handel said the breast cancer charity should have stood by its decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

March 22: Komen announces the resignations of five more executives.

Times wires

Komen president leaving, founder taking new role 08/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 12:37am]
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