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Susan G. Komen Spokesman Quits

By Mark Hrywna - May 3, 2012

Another key executive at Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s national headquarters is leaving the organization after a public relations debacle regarding funding to Planned Parenthood of America.

Leslie Aun, who as vice president of marketing and communications served as the lead spokesperson for the organization, will leave Komen May 15 to become vice president of communications at Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP). She will become at least the sixth executive to leave the organization, either at headquarters or at the affiliate level, since the Planned Parenthood controversy exploded four months ago.

In an announcement released today, Washington, D.C.-based VPP said Aun will lead communications efforts as it begins “a new phase of work to improve the lives of children and youth in the National Capital region.”

Komen has had its challenges in recent months, but Aun said the situation regarding Planned Parenthood funding did not play a role in her leaving the organization. “It’s still a wonderful organization,” she said, and is re-focusing back on its mission and great work, adding that she still plans to participate in the Walk for the Cure next month’s Walk for the Cure event in Washington, D.C. She cited the “great opportunity” that was presented by VPP, as well as its extensive work related to children as the primary factor in leaving.

As vice president of marketing and communications, Aun was responsible for directing Komen’s public relations, branding, advertising, interactive marketing and event planning teams. Prior to joining Komen in March 2011, Aun was vice president of communications for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and chief communications officer for Special Olympics.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Komen has seen several executives leave the organization in recent months, both at the affiliate level and headquarters, as well as some turnover and changes to the national organization’s board.

Among those who have left or already announced their intention of leaving are:

  • Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of Komen Greater NYC
  • Christine McDonald, CEO Oregon and SW Washington affiliate
  • Katrina McGhee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer
  • Nancy Macgregor, vice president, global networks
  • Joanna Newcomb, director of affiliate strategy and planning

In addition, Dr. LaSalle Leffall stepped down as chairman to become a regular board member, citing increased duties as provost at Howard University. Robert Taylor, a founding board member who returned to the board after several years, replaced him as chairman. Eric Brinker, the son of founder Nancy Brinker, gave up his seat to add a second affiliate representative to the 10-member board. He remains a general ambassador for Komen.

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