Nancy Brinker is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement. In 1982, with a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she founded Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now known as Susan G. Komen®). At that time breast cancer was not openly discussed, there were no 800- numbers, and few, if any, support groups. Treatment options and research funding streams were limited. In a few short years after its founding, the work of the foundation broke the silence around breast cancer and Susan G. Komen® is now the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find cures.
Her creativity in awareness raising campaigns led to revolutionary programming. Since the first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® in 1983, the race has evolved into the world’s largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer, with annual events in over 150 cities throughout the world. Through her model, she became a pioneer in the concept of cause-related marketing, allowing millions to participate through businesses that share the commitment to eradicate the disease. The foundation’s advocacy work has increased legislation and greater government funding leading to major advances in breast cancer research.
A breast cancer survivor herself, Ms. Brinker’s determination to create a world without breast cancer is matched by her passion to enlist every segment of society to participate in the battle. Her efforts have garnered her much recognition including the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama, the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, the Champions of Excellence Award from the Centers for Disease Control, Forbes Trailblazer Award, and the Anti-Defamation League Americanism Award, among many others.
She has also served in several significant government positions including U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary, U.S. Chief of Protocol, a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the United Nation’s World Health Organization. Through opportunities afforded her in these positions, she continues to put cancer control at the top of the world health agenda.