New Komen for the Cure CEO says foundation is 'forging ahead'

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 21 at 9:01 PM

DALLAS -- The woman who founded the mega breast cancer research foundation that made tiny pink ribbons on lapels as common as buttons on a jacket is no longer CEO.

Last summer, amid controversy after Susan G. Komen for the Cure cut, then restored, funding to Planned Parenthood grants. Nancy Brinker announced intentions to step down, but still held the position for months afterward.

News 8 spoke with Brinker as well as newly-named Komen for the Cure CEO Judy Salerno this week as the organization held its annual seminar in Dallas this week.

"You've got to be strong enough to understand you are going to have hills and valleys in the kind of work we do," Brinker said.

Komen faced intense public backlash after it decided to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. The decision was reversed three days later, but it had a lasting impact. There were protests outside Komen's Dallas headquarters. Online petitions were launched, and there were demands that Brinker be fired. Then, there was her salary, reported at just under $700,000.

"The important thing is how you react to it and move through it," she said.

Earlier this month, Komen cancelled half of its three-day walks due to low participation. Nationwide, it was down by 37 percent over the last four years. Locally, registration was down 37 percent and fundraising was down 27 percent last year.

Brinker said a few years of bad publicity doesn't compare to all the work Komen has done since its founding in 1982.

"I don't measure things in terms of a couple of years. I measure things in terms of decades and generations," she said. "We're doing this so your grandchildren, and hopefully mine, won't ever die from breast cancer."

Brinker is now over Komen's global strategy. Judy Salerno is the new CEO.

"Every minute I spend here, I am more and more convinced that we are just forging ahead," Salerno said.

She is leaving her job as head of the Institute of Medicine, a group that advises the government and private sector about health and science. She will move to Texas within the next few months from Washington, D.C.

"We will make decisions that will absolutely make people feel Komen is leading the way in breast cancer," Salerno said.

A spokesperson for the Komen for the Cure declined to comment on what Salerno’s salary will be.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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