Nancy Brinker founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in 1982 in in the name of her sister, who had died of breast cancer a few years before. Brinker and her foundation were adored and supported by countless women who respected the way the group brought breast cancer into the light over the following decades. But in the last few years, Brinker made a number of missteps that turned Komen into the “new Coke of nonprofits,” as Advertising Age put it.
First, Brinker announced that Komen would withdraw financial support from Planned Parenthood because it provided abortions. Then, faced with an enormous backlash, Brinker reversed the decision. The affair left both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups furious, and Brinker announced she would step down.
Although donations to Komen dropped precipitously and participation in Komen’s signature “race for the cure” events fell, the controversy eventually died down. As it turns out, however, Brinker is still listed as the organization’s CEO — and she just got a massive raise.
As the Washington Post reported last year, Brinker took home a $417,000 salary in 2010, a salary that was in line with comparable large charities including the Boy Scouts and Easter Seals.
Last year, the year everything fell apart, Brinker earned $684,717. That’s a 64% raise over her 2010 salary, and it works out to an hourly rate of $239.40, about twice the rate of the group’s CFO.
The pink-ification of the breast cancer cause, which Komen has led, has also come under fire recently. A cover story in the New York Times magazine recently took a critical look at Komen’s approach to the disease, including its relentless focus on mammograms, and its emphasis on “awareness” over research.
Meanwhile, Reader’s Digest just placed Brinker at #33 on its list of “most trusted people in America.” It’s hard to imagine she can stay there for long.