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Komen president resigning, founder shifting roles

DALLAS — The president and the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are both stepping down from their roles, the nation’s largest breast cancer foundation said in announcing a major leadership shakeup Wednesday. The high-profile departures come amid continuing fallout from the group’s decision earlier this year to briefly end funding for Planned Parenthood.

President Liz Thompson will leave Komen next month. Founder Nancy Brinker, who has long been the public face of the charity, will relinquish her chief executive’s role for one focused on fund-raising and strategy, the Dallas-based organization said in a statement.

It is the latest shakeup since news emerged in January that Komen had decided to eliminate its funding for Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening. The group said it made the decision because Planned Parenthood was the focus of a congressional investigation, which was launched at the urging of antiabortion activists.


Komen restored the funding after a three-day firestorm, but it did not quell the criticism. At least five other high-ranking executives have also resigned, and organizers of many Race for the Cure events saw their participation numbers drop.

Brinker founded the organization in 1982, two years after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died of breast cancer. Thompson joined the group in 2008 to lead research and scientific programs, and she was promoted to president in 2010.

According to the statement, which makes no reference to the Planned Parenthood decision, Thompson said the time was right for her to pursue other opportunities. She hailed the organization’s leadership in pursuing a cure for breast cancer and for helping women and men with cancer care.

Brinker praised Thompson’s work in expanding Komen’s influence in scientific, community health, advocacy, and global programs. As for her changed role, Brinker said she assumed the chief executive’s duties at the request of the foundation’s board in 2009.


‘‘Three years into that role, and 32 years after my promise to my sister to end breast cancer, I want now to focus on Susan G. Komen’s global mission and raising resources to bring our promise to women all around the world,’’ she said.