After years of battling bad PR and dwindling donations, Susan G. Komen announced a new CEO to replace founder Nancy Brinker. Brinker was recently criticized in the press for having an astronomically sized salary, higher than the CEO of the Red Cross, an organization ten times the size of Komen. This news was on top of the fact that Brinker had announced she would step down over nine months ago after a scandal that made the cancer charity lose swarms of donors. In late 2011, Susan G. Komen decided to drop funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, spawning a venomous media and supporter reaction which resulted in the resignation of vice president Karen Handel. Several months later, Brinker announced she would step aside, but had not left her position until now.
About half of the charity’s 3-days walks have been cancelled for next year due to lack of participation. Officially Susan G. Komen cited the poor economy, but the bad performance is likely due to a failure on the organization’s part to re-establish trust. Even though the decision to defund Planned Parenthood was revoked, donations have not been able to reach previous levels. Disclosure of Brinker’s salary, which included multiple raises over the last four years, probably did not help the pink ribbon brandishing cancer warriors.
The new CEO will be Judith Salerno, coming from the Institute of Medicine. She is considered an expert in medical policy and research, a serious choice for an organization determined to gain back its once held respectability. Salerno is a graduate of Harvard twice over, once from medical school and again from the school of public health. She has worked for top tier public health organizations, including National Institute of Health and the National Agency on Aging. With such impressive credentials, the foundation may finally be on the road to recovery.