The Internal Fallout at the Komen Foundation

Nancy Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure makes remarks at the Komen Community Challenge rally 26 April, 2007 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Nancy Brinker.Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., the chairman of the Susan G. Komen foundation, has announced he’ll be stepping down from his post. Officially, it’s because the 81-year-old wants to concentrate on his full-time job, as provost of Howard University. But one source close to the board told the Washington Post the real reason is that Howard specifically asked Leffall to “distance” himself from the foundation, in the wake of their recent controversial standoff over providing funding to Planned Parenthood. Leffall is being replaced by an O.G. board member, 83-year-old Robert Taylor, who is close to founder Nancy Brinker.

The resignation might be the highest-profile bit of internal fallout to date, but it’s not the only one. Various executives at regional Komen affiliates have already stepped down in protest. At the mothership, where staff is pulling together the new fiscal year’s budgets, “morale is extremely low,” reports the Post. Aside from the question of whether staffers felt personally affronted by Komen’s initial decision to pull funding, donations slowed in the wake of the controversy, and the staff has to deal with the bureaucratic headache of figuring out what can be sliced from the budget. Things are so bad that the foundation has conducted an internal, anonymous survey asking staffers if they planned to leave within the next year. Results haven’t been released, but the very fact that such an undertaking happened is not exactly a good sign for staff retention.