Komen breast cancer charity’s top leaders step down


Leaders of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced Wednesday that they would step down from their roles at the breast cancer charity.

In a statement released by the organization, founder and Chief Executive Nancy G. Brinker said that she would take on “a new management role focusing on revenue creation” and President Elizabeth Thompson said she would leave the foundation in September.

The changes came six months after a public uproar when Komen’s decided to stop funding breast health services operated by Planned Parenthood. Though Brinker and others in the national leadership said that the decision to halt funding had nothing to do with abortion politics, critics and some local Komen affiliates cried foul, and the charity reversed its decision within days.

In the following months, Komen’s fundraising — long the envy of the nonprofit world — suffered as participation in its Race for the Cure events fell.

It is unclear whether a management shift at Komen will be enough to resuscitate its reputation and the fundraising power of the pink ribbon, said Daniel Borochoff, president of the Chicago-based watchdog group CharityWatch.

“Bringing in new people who weren’t part of the bad decisions will help them be more focused on their mission,” he said. “But it does depend who they pick.”

Just last week, the charity came under renewed fire from researchers at Dartmouth College, who wrote in the British Medical Journal that Komen overstated the benefits of mammograms in a recent awareness campaign.

In a statement, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, praised Brinker’s and Thompson’s work for women’s health.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership,” she said.

Lisa Wolter, executive director of Komen’s Orange County affiliate, said she didn’t know the reason for Thompson’s departure but that the pressures of the controversy could have been a factor.

“She may need to recharge her batteries,” Wolter said.

Two members of the Komen board of directors also announced their resignations Wednesday.