Komen still roiled by Planned Parenthood flap
DALLAS | At least five high-ranking executives with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity have resigned in the aftermath of the organization’s decision, promptly rescinded, to eliminate its funding for Planned Parenthood.
The departures include three officials from Komen’s Dallas headquarters, as well as CEOS of affiliate groups in Oregon and New York City. Although some of the executives cited personal reasons, the resignations suggest that Komen is still in turmoil, even after restoring the money.
Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said she could not speak to individuals’ reasons for leaving, but acknowledged the effects of the furor among supporters.
“Obviously, we know some folks are upset. We’ve certainly seen that,” Ms. Aun said. “We know people have been upset by recent events, but most really do recognize the importance of our work.”
Resignations began about a month ago. Chris Mcdonald, executive director and chief executive of the organization’s Oregon and southwest Washington affiliate, announced that she would leave at the end of April.
She said her decision wasn’t “predicated by any one event,” but that actions by national headquarters affected her thinking.
“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,” Ms. Mcdonald said in a Feb. 25 statement posted on the organization’s website.
She did not immediately return a call from the Associated Press.
News emerged in late January that Komen had decided to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood for breast-screening services because Planned Parenthood was the focus of a congressional investigation. The organization also noted that Planned Parenthood generally does not perform mammograms itself, but merely gives referrals.
After a three-day firestorm of criticism, Komen reversed course.
Some Komen affiliates, including Ms. Mcdonald’s, were among those that publicly opposed the policy change that cut off grants for Planned Parenthood.
In the days after the reversal, Komen policy chief Karen Handel resigned. She had opposed abortion as a Republican candidate for Georgia governor and had become a target of those angry about the decision to halt funding to Planned Parenthood.
In Dallas, the three resignations were Katrina Mcghee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer; Nancy Macgregor, vice president of global networks; and Joanna Newcomb, director of affiliate strategy and planning.
Ms. Mcghee announced in February that she would be leaving May 4 “for personal reasons” and because it was “time to make a change.” Ms. Mcgregor will leave in June, and Ms. Newcomb departed at the end of February.
The Associated Press left messages Thursday for Ms. Mcghee and Ms. Macgregor. Ms. Newcomb declined to comment.
Dr. Dara Richardson-heron, CEO of Komen’s New York City affiliate, said Tuesday that she will leave April 27. Her affiliate was also critical of the Planned Parenthood decision, but she did not cite that in a letter posted on the website, saying only that she wanted to pursue “new career opportunities” and that leaving “was not an easy decision.”
Vern Calhoun, a spokesman for the New York affiliate, said Dr. Richardson-heron was not speaking to reporters.
A small group of women protest Feb. 7 outside the Susan G. Komen for the Cure headquarters in Dallas in the immediate aftermath of the breast cancer charity’s short-lived cutoff of funding to Planned Parenthood. Several high-ranking executives have since left or intend to leave the organization.