Komen Cancels “Lobby Day” in D.C.

March 28, 2012: Source: The Daily Beast

The hits just keep on coming at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Just days after a Harris Poll indicated that Komen’s brand plummeted during the first quarter of the calendar year and board member Eric Brinker (son of Komen founder Nancy Brinker) added his name to the growing ranks of recent Komen resignations, now comes news that the foundation will cancel what the Daily Beast refers to as “one of its most important events of the year: its annual ‘Lobby Day’ in Washington, D.C.” In the past, the lobbying effort has reportedly involved Komen transporting hundreds of supporters from across the U.S. to the Capitol to meet with legislators in order to discuss the importance of government funding for cancer research, early detection programs and treatments for underserved individuals.

Komen, of course, was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of backlash when the organization announced its (since rescinded) decision to discontinue funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer exams. Even since the reversal of the decision, fallout has continued with a wave of resignations among leadership and  reports from a number of local Komen affiliates of declining participation and revenues as NPQ has previously noted.

If Komen has been wandering through the typical stages of grief in the wake of the Planned Parenthood debacle, it appears the organization may finally have reached the “acceptance” phase—or so spokesperson Leslie Aun would make it seem. Aun says, “We know folks have been upset with us. We get that, and we are sorry.” Aun then quickly pivots for a renewed show of support: “If you don’t give to Komen, that’s someone who’s not going to get a mammogram…We fill so many gaps for women—we gave 700,000 free screenings to uninsured women last year, many of them impoverished. I can’t tell you how many cancers we have detected. Women are alive today because of Komen.”

We can count this as only the latest symptom of an organization in flux and it will not be the last. We can only guess at the dialogue going on within the organization about the degree to which Komen must embrace change to convince supporters to return to the fold. –Mike Keefe-Feldman