Top Komen foundation leaders announce plans to leave posts
(CNN) — Two leaders of one of America’s leading breast cancer advocacy groups are leaving their posts, months after the foundation came under fire during a controversy over funding for Planned Parenthood projects.
Nancy Brinker will leave her position as CEO and take on a new role within the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Elizabeth Thompson will leave her role as the organization’s president in September, the foundation said in a statement Wednesday.
Thompson will leave the organization in September, while Brinker will move to a new job once the organization finds a successor. As chair of the Komen Board Executive Committee, she will focus on revenue creation, strategy and global growth, the foundation said.
“Our mission is clear and consistent, and will never change, regardless of the controversy earlier this year,” Brinker said in a statement. “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.”
Brinker told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the changes had nothing to do with the firestorm that erupted in January and February, when the foundation made a decision that would have cut off funding to some Planned Parenthood projects.
The foundation later reversed its decision, after facing pressure from lawmakers and internal dissent.
“I apologized to everyone. I think we all made mistakes and we addressed them and we’re through that and we’re moving on,” she said, according to the newspaper.
In 1982, Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure — named for her sister who died from breast cancer.
Decades later, Brinker was a political appointee of the George W. Bush administration, serving as U.S. ambassador to Hungary and as chief of protocol.
Thompson, who began her career in medical publishing before turning toward cancer advocacy, was named president of the foundation in September 2010 after serving as its senior vice president for medical and scientific affairs.
Karen Handel, a vice president of the organization, resigned in February after a Huffington Post report said she was the driving force behind the foundation’s decision not to renew parts of its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood. Handel denied that accusation.
At the time, Brinker said in a statement that she had accepted Handel’s resignation and acknowledged, “we have made mistakes in how we handled recent decisions.”
A biography of Brinker on the foundation’s website describes her as “the leader of the global breast cancer movement.”
The organization she founded has invested almost $2 billion in breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment, according to its website.
“In a matter of years, Brinker broke the silence around breast cancer, and Susan G. Komen is now the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures,” the website says.