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Leadership shake-up continues at Komen foundation

08/08/2012 11:49 PM

08/09/2012 6:53 AM

DALLAS -- The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, the nation's largest breast-cancer research and support organization, announced a major leadership shake-up on Wednesday that includes the founder of the nonprofit.

President Liz Thompson will leave Komen next month, and founder Nancy Brinker, who has long been the public face of the charity, will give up her chief executive post, according to a statement from the Dallas-based organization.

It's the latest shake-up since January, when Komen announced that it would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening because of a congressional investigation launched at the urging of anti-abortion activists.

Komen restored the funding after a three-day uproar, but it didn't quell the criticism. At least five other high-ranking executives have resigned, and Race for the Cure participation has plummeted.

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

Brinker will focus on fundraising and strategic planning, according to the announcement.

The statement made no reference to the Planned Parenthood decision or fallout. Thompson said the time was right for her to pursue other opportunities. She hailed the organization's leadership in pursuing a cure for breast cancer and for helping women and men with cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment.

"That legacy will continue. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve in this role," she said.

Brinker praised Thompson's work in expanding Komen's influence in scientific, community health, advocacy and global programs. As for her changed role, 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.

In the days after Komen decided to restore funding to Planned Parenthood, Komen policy chief Karen Handel resigned. She had opposed abortion as a Republican candidate for Georgia governor and became a target of critics of the decision to halt funding to Planned Parenthood.

Her resignation was followed, in quick succession, by Katrina McGhee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer; Nancy Macgregor, vice president of global networks; and Joanna Newcomb, director of affiliate strategy and planning.

The foundation has invested $1.3 billion in community programs over 30 years, according to Komen's statement.

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