“Change” in Leadership at Komen Not Really Change at All?

A fascinating article in New York Magazine shows that things really might not be changing at the organization after all.

Nancy Brinker AFP/Getty Images

The recent news that Komen Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker would be stepping down as President dominated the media cycle recently. Finally, the breast cancer awareness organization seemed prepared to make a clean start after their disastrous attempt to discontinue grants to Planned Parenthood for preventive breast screening and mammogram referrals.

But is Brinker really going anywhere?  Not at all, writes Lea Goldman at New York Magazine. In fact, she may be more entrenched than ever.

According to a high-level insider, she never seriously entertained the idea of leaving the organization, though the Komen board told Liz Thompson, Komen’s president, that such a plan was in the works when Thompson tendered her first resignation in April. The board pleaded with Thompson to stay on, telling her that she’d be instrumental in easing Brinker’s exit. But in mid-July, she’d begun hearing rumors that Brinker was simply planning to toggle positions, trading her CEO title for chairmanship of Komen Board Executive Committee, the group responsible for hiring her successor. Thompson tendered her resignation once again — and this time, no cajoling could make her stay. Board members Linda Law, a Silicon Valley real-estate developer, and Brenda Lauderback, a retail veteran, followed suit. But the remaining members of Komen’s board, headed up by 83-year-old Robert Taylor, a Dallas attorney and longtime friend of Brinker’s, held off on announcing the latest shake-up until it had fine-tuned the details of Brinker’s new role. (Even now, those details aren’t clear. A Komen spokesperson could not answer who was on the executive committee and whether Brinker’s chairmanship of it meant she’d have a seat on Komen’s board of directors.) 

The entire article is an amazing look at how the organization ended up in the middle of its public relationship disaster and how even now it may not have learned a lesson from the outcry of its volunteers and donors.