by R. Asmerom
It has been a very rattling year for the Suan G. Komen Foundation – an agency that raises funds for cancer research and treatment. On the heels of its publcly criticized flip-flopping on the Planned Parenthood issue, the CEO of its New York affiliate Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron resigned today.
Earlier this year, Susan G. Komen for The Cure cut funding to Planned Parenthood in lieu of the fact that it was under congressional investigation for using federal funds to deliver abortion services.
Many in the public saw the Komen Foundation’s move as highly political and many protested its policy of cutting breast health programs. Amidst the backlach it received, The Foundation decided to re-fund Planned Parenthood.
The controversy however rattled the organization and strained its leadership.
Abigail Pesta of Newsweek and The Daily Beast reported on the recent resignation of Richardson-Heron who headed one of its most powerful affiliates in terms of fundraising. Although Richardson-Heron stated in a letter to constituents that she “made a personal decision to leave” and “to pursue new career opportunities,” it is believed that the recent controversy highly determined the turn of events:
Eve Ellis, a former board member of the Komen affiliate in New York City, said she believes Richardson-Heron’s resignation is tied to the Planned Parenthood controversy. “I can’t say exactly why she [resigned], but I can tell you that Dara was working behind the scenes before the decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood, saying, ‘Please don’t do this.’ After the decision, she was working behind the scenes to reverse it,” Ellis told The Daily Beast. She added, “I have the utmost respect for Dara. I was on the selection committee when we selected her—she is an impressive force.”
The Foundation recently canceled two important fund-raising events in New York city due to “concerns about efforts to raise funds in the near term.” In recent weeks, two other high profile executives have also resigned and now there is pressure being put on Nancy Brinker, the founder of the organization, to step down in order to restore the reputation of the agency. “I really feel that she can salvage this situation by stepping aside,” Ellis told The Daily Beast about Brinker. “I don’t mind if she steps aside as a hero, saying, look what I’ve built, with the help of others. The mission is bigger than all of us. Go out a hero, a martyr. It’s in Nancy Brinker’s hands and in her board’s hands. They are not an independent board—her son is on it. They need to be an independent voice.”