June 17, 2013 / 8:49 PM / in 7 years

CORRECTED-Komen foundation names new CEO amid financial troubles

(Corrects year CEO search started in second paragraph; participation cancer-charity events remains strong, not up, in paragraph 12)

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS, Texas, June 17 (Reuters) - The Susan G. Komen foundation named a new chief executive to replace Nancy Brinker, founder of the breast cancer charity, which suffered a major loss of donations last year after withdrawing funding for Planned Parenthood to perform breast cancer screenings.

The foundation said on Monday Judy Salerno is stepping in as chief executive following a search that began in August 2012, when Brinker announced she would vacate the CEO position.

That decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood was quickly reversed after the backlash, which is still hurting the organization’s fundraising efforts. Brinker will take on a new role focusing on global mission and development, the foundation said.

Abortion opponents across the United States have been seeking to cut off government and other funding for Planned Parenthood, because it performs surgical abortions.

Salerno is the executive director of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C,. a non-profit organization that advises government and private sectors with original health and science research.

“I am very much looking forward to joining this great organization and working with our staff, affiliate network, advisory boards and supporters in this mission to end breast cancer,” Salerno said in a statement.

A Komen spokesperson did not respond to questions regarding Salerno’s salary. Brinker earned $684,000 a year, a 64 percent increase from what she made in the year ended March 2011, the Dallas News reported.

Komen, named for Brinker’s sister, is the largest breast-cancer charity in the country, with 120 affiliates.

Salerno’s appointment comes during a sharp drop in Komen fundraising and supporters.

Half of the organization’s three-day walk events in major cities, its most high-profile fundraisers, were canceled for next year due to declining participation rates, spokeswoman Andrea Rader said in an email.

Rader acknowledged that the Planned Parenthood controversy contributed to lower turnouts but said economic conditions also resulted in less cash from individuals. The minimum donation required for participation in the three-day events is $2,300.

The drop comes as other cancer-fighting charities are seeing strong participation continue.

The Avon Foundation, which sponsors similar events across the country, has experienced “strong levels of participation that are comparable to the past couple of years,” spokeswoman Karyn Margolis said. The donation requirement for the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer is $1,800.

Andrea Applegate who raised money for Komen with public service announcements and a team for the Race for the Cure events even before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, said she became unhappy with the direction of the organization.

“I went from feeling this was very personal and being so passionate to deciding there are other places that I can put my money and support,” Applegate said. (Editing by Karen Brooks and Steve Orlofsky)

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