Research, Early Detection, Survivor Support, Advocacy

Message of Gratitude from Komen Oregon CEO Chris McDonald

February 25, 2012

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served as executive director and chief executive officer of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Oregon and SW Washington Affiliate. After seven years of service, I have decided to end my tenure with the Affiliate at the end of April.

Working with Komen’s talented staff and Affiliate board on the critical mission of ending breast cancer has been one of the great honors of my professional career. Our work has saved lives and provided critical cancer screening for low-income patients and their families.

We have increased the Affiliate’s effectiveness and ability to deliver results for tens of thousands of women in Oregon and SW Washington. During the past seven years, we have built staff capacity from 5 to 15 full-time employees, expanded our budget from $1.9 million to nearly $10 million in direct and in-kind contributions, and provided resources for breast cancer screenings for nearly 50,000 women around the region.

I am especially proud of our bipartisan advocacy to help level the playing field for uninsured and low-income women diagnosed with breast cancer. After six years of intense effort, we were able to win unanimous passage in the Oregon Legislature for SB 433, a measure that expands eligibility for life-saving access to treatment coverage by removing a provision that discriminated against women screened by the incorrect providers inside of a complex system.

The process of deciding to move into the next phase of my career began months ago and should be put in the context of seven years of service to an organization I love. After our success on SB 433, I first started considering a career change with passage of this milestone. Sponsors and supporters may rightfully ask what role the recent actions undertaken by Komen national played in this decision. It’s a fair question. Although it affected my decision, this professional choice was not predicated by any one event. Despite our deep frustration about the distraction that our organization headquarters’ actions caused, I was proud that our Affiliate took a strong stand against the politicization of the fight to improve women’s health.

The mission of Komen’s fight against breast cancer is larger than any one person. As I prepare to leave Komen Oregon in the coming months, I am thankful for what we’ve accomplished toward our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Working together, we have created a rock-solid foundation for the affiliate’s path forward and long-term success.