Komen Appoints Founder As New CEO

December 2, 2009       Mark Hrywna      

Two weeks after its previous leader resigned, Susan G. Komen for the Cure appointed its founder as CEO while separating the duties of president from the position.

The Dallas-based breast cancer awareness organization chose Nancy Brinker as its CEO yesterday (Dec. 1). Mike Williams, who served as interim CFO earlier this year, will fill the position of president on an interim basis.

As first reported by The NonProfit Times, Hala Moddelmog, who served as president and CEO, stepped down Nov. 19, three days after new mammogram guidelines were issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). According to sources, she had several months remaining on a three-year contract that began in 2006 and resigned following a regularly scheduled board meeting Nov. 17 over the direction of the organization.

Emily Callahan, vice president of marketing, said Moddelmog decided to resign for personal reasons and to spend more time with family. Komen is based in Dallas and Moddelmog’s home is in Atlanta. The resignation did not have anything to do with the new guidelines or “anything wrong with the organization. It was an issue of timing,” she said.

The separation of president and CEO will allow Brinker to be “the visionary person of the organization…and serve as its public face,” Callahan said, while Williams “will work with the internal operations of the organization.”

The board deliberately carved out the two different roles for president and CEO to complement the vision that Brinker brings to the job and strengthen the grassroots aspect of the organization that she started.

Internal staff was told of Brinker’s appointment yesterday afternoon before a public announcement was made this afternoon.

“Given Nancy’s diplomatic and global leadership, appointing her as CEO…is the right move as the organization grows internationally, sharpens its advocacy efforts and continues to strengthen its grassroots base,” Alexine Clement Jackson, board chairperson, said in a statement released today.

Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982 after her sister, Susan Goodman Komen, died of breast cancer at age 33. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year and served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003. She’s currently Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

No long-term plans are in place yet for the position of president while issues of contracts and salaries are “still being dealt with at the board level,” Callahan said. “We don’t have the information to release publicly,” she said.

Komen For the Cure continued to grow during Moddelmog’s tenure. Total revenue, including its 125 affiliates, was $242 million for the Fiscal Year Ending (FYE) March 2006 compared to $305 million for FYE March 2008, according to the most recent available tax forms. Last year, Moddelmog earned almost $482,000 in total compensation as president and CEO.

Asked about why the CEO’s resignation was not planned or announced months in advance as some national nonprofits have done, Callahan said: “Every situation and every organization is different, it just didn’t play out that way.

“In drawing those parallels, we are unique in that the founder has always been involved…in different capacities. Other organizations don’t necessarily have that luxury. We’re unique in having the founder’s story, and being able to step in and take that role,” Callahan said. “For organizations that aren’t based in that structure, their succession plan is going to be different,” she said.

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This article is from NPT Weekly, a publication of The NonProfit Times.

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