Komen Executive To Lead Livestrong Foundation

March 25, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

A longtime Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive has been tapped to be the next leader of the Livestrong Foundation. The two Texas-based charities have a few things in common: both have a mission focused on cancer and both have experienced a decline in revenue in recent years, likely the result of donor backlash.

The Livestrong Foundation announced yesterday that it had selected Chandini Portteus as its next president and chief executive officer, effective April 6.

The 36-year-old will join the Austin, Texas-based charity after almost a decade at Komen, where she served most recently as chief mission officer, responsible for strategy and programming around research, community health, public policy and global programs.

Board Chairman Jeff Garvey cited her experience, energy and commitment as being “perfectly suited to lead the next stage of Livestrong’s evolution. Her work forging alliances with both corporate and academic partners will be extremely valuable as we launch the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.”

Portteus held a number of positions in almost 10 years at the Dallas, Texas-based Komen, most recently chief mission officer. She also held several research and grant director positions. She was “instrumental in creating focused initiatives working across more than 30 countries,” according to a Livestrong press release announcing the appointment. Her global programming work included fundraising with major donors and partnerships with Fortune 100 companies and she was the architect and relationship manager for the scientific advisory bodies of Susan G. Komen, which included the Scientific Advisory Board and the Komen Scholars.

“After an extensive national search, the board was unanimous in its enthusiasm about the choice of Chandini. Her credentials speak for themselves and her energy, intelligence and understanding of the challenges faced by cancer survivors impressed all of us,” Candice Toll Aaron, chair-elect of Livestrong’s board of directors, said in an announcement.

Portteus holds a liberal arts degree in psychology and biology from Austin College and earned a master’s from the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health. She previously worked in sales for Knoll Pharmaceuticals, as well as conducting clinical research at UT Southwestern Medical School, Children’s Medical Center, UT Houston School of Public Health and Parkland Hospital.

Livestrong’s announcement did not include details about an annual salary for the new CEO. Ulman last year earned total compensation of $404,391, including a base salary of $305,586. At Komen, Portteus earned total compensation of $249,430, including a base salary of $243,034, in the most recent fiscal year, ending March 2014. Livestrong’s board “conducted a thorough market analysis of comparable positions to reach a decision” on her compensation pacakage, according to a spokesman, but declined to reveal details. The organization’s next Form 990, to be filed this summer, will cover 2014 but any reference to the new CEO’s salary won’t appear until the tax form for 2015, which will be filed no earlier than 14 months from now. The 2013 Form 990 was filed in September 2014.

The organization announced in September that Ulman would be leaving to take the helm at Pelotonia, a Columbus, Ohio-based cancer biking charity, a month after announcing a $50-million donation over the next decade to the University of Texas-Austin to establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School. Ulman took over at Pelotonia in January while Livestrong retained search firm Witt/Kieffer.

Livestrong reported total revenue of $23.33 million in 2013, down from $38 million in 2012. Contributions declined form $22.6 million to $15 million that year, likely a result of fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in which the founder and seven-time winner of the Tour de France admitted to doping during his cycling career.

Komen headquarters last year reduced the number of 3-Day walks from 14 to seven and saw revenue drop 38 percent. Systemwide its approximately 120 affiliates have seen a decline in participation and revenue from its Susan G. Komen for the Cure Series, with revenue down 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in the last two years. Komen has suffered through a public relations debacle after a January 2012 decision, which it eventually reversed, to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood.