Komen Chair Steps Aside, Former Board Member Returns

March 23, 2012       Mark Hrywna      

Changes to the national board at Susan G. Komen for the Cure are coming amid some executive turnover, less than two months after a national flap regarding funding to Planned Parenthood.

Citing increased duties as provost at Howard University, Dr. LaSalle Leffall will step down as chairman of the board, effective March 31, which is the end of Komen’s fiscal year. Eric Brinker, the son of founder Nancy Brinker, will relinquish his seat so the organization can add a second affiliate representative to the now 10-member board. Eric Brinker will remain with Komen as a general ambassador.

The NonProfit Times last month called for Nancy Brinker to step down and cited conflicts of interest on the board, such as her son serving on it.

The changes were reviewed and agreed upon by the board yesterday, according to spokeswoman Leslie Aun. The organization’s by-laws allow flexibility to add an at-large member to the board, she said.

Leffall, 81, began a two-year term as chairman last year. He will be replaced as chairman by Dallas attorney Robert Taylor, a founding member of the board who served for 28 years until 2010. Asked whether new blood was considered for the board, Aun said Taylor has been a valuable friend and advisor to the organization for many years.

Leffall was appointed provost at the Washington, D.C., university this past November, making it difficult to continue his duties as chairman, according to Aun. He previously served as Komen’s chairman from 2002 to 2007.

The board changes come days after the CEO of Komen’s largest affiliate said she’d be leaving at the end of next month. Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron of the Greater New York City affiliate announced Tuesday that she will “pursue new career opportunities” after almost four years at the organization.

Komen turnover started in February when Christine McDonald announced she’d be stepping down at the end of April after seven years as CEO of Oregon and SW Washington affiliate, which along with NYC was among the most outspoken affiliates of de-funding Planned Parenthood. “Although it affected my decision, this professional choice was not predicated by any one event,” she said in a statement. “Despite our deep frustration about the distraction that our organization headquarters’ actions caused, I was proud that our affiliate took a strong stand against the politicization of the fight to improve women’s health.”

Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Katrina McGhee announced, also in late February, that she would resign effective May 4. Two other executives at the Dallas headquarters have resigned or will step down: Nancy Macgregor, vice president, global networks, left at the end of last month and Joanna Newcomb, director of affiliate strategy and planning, will resign this summer. Aun said the executives are leaving for personal reasons and declined to comment any further.