August 13, 2012

Komen Supporters Seek to Oust Nancy Brinker From Board

When Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, announced last week that she would step down as chief executive, along with the president and two board members, many leaders of the charity's local affiliates breathed a sigh of relief.

But now some of those same supporters, including former board members and key volunteers, are getting angry as they learn that Ms. Brinker plans to retain her lifetime position on the board of directors and to chair its executive committee, in effect continuing to control the organization.

Eve Ellis, a former board member of Komen's New York affiliate, has started an online petition urging Ms. Brinker to "relinquish power." Since going live over the weekend, the petition has attracted attention from prominent feminists, such as Gloria Steinem.

Andrea Rader, director of communications at Komen national headquarters in Dallas, says she became aware of the online petition when some people sent her links to it over the weekend. "We do not have any reaction to it," she said.

Komen has spent most of this year trying to recover from a controversial decision by Ms. Brinker and other leaders at the charity's headquarters to stop providing grants to Planned Parenthood.

The decision was quickly reversed, but it nevertheless has led to months of  turmoil for the organization, including the departure of several top staff members and declines of 10 percent or more in contributions to the charity's Race for the Cure and other signature fundraising events.

Many of the charity's supporters put the blame for the problems on Ms. Brinker.

She  "has destroyed the Komen brand," says a former board member of a local affiliate who asked to remain anonymous. "She has refused to leave gracefully, and the affiliates are suffering. It will take a lot for the brand to recoup."

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