What Changes & What Remains The Same
When I first met the founders of the Breast Cancer Coalition back in 1999, the organization was just 1.5 years old. I was inspired by the vision of this small but determined group of women who first met around a kitchen table…and I shared in that vision, quickly adopting it as my own. When Board Co-Chairs Kathy Macbeth and Terri Schmitt brought me on as the Executive Director twenty-two years ago, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I will be eternally grateful to them for their trust and belief in me.
It has been the greatest honor of my life to have been entrusted with the growth of the Breast Cancer Coalition. As we have hit so many milestones this year, not the least of which is our 25th Anniversary, it’s time to turn the page. Our Board of Directors began working diligently on succession planning back in 2017 when I indicated that my departure would occur in sometime in the next few years…. and here we are. Those years have flown!
I will be stepping down as President/Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition on December 31, 2023. Though I am planning my departure from the Coalition, I am not planning to retire. I will be seeking a new career path that allows me increased flexibility and a bit less responsibility. I remain passionate about our mission and look forward to being one of the Coalition’s greatest fans and supporters. And, when asked, I will always be available to share institutional knowledge or provide historical context to our leaders of the Coalition.
I am proud to have led the Coalition through a long period of strategic, thoughtful growth that has taken honest feedback from survivors to heart. In the past twenty-two years, the four pillars of our organization – Advocacy, Education, Support, and Research – have solidified and strengthened. Our Advocates have worked diligently on the local, state, and national levels to build working relationships with our lawmakers while speaking out in the interests of survivors. The Monroe County 48- Hour Neighbor Notification law, the New York State Compassionate Care Act, and continued funding for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Fund are just some of our great accomplishments. The Research Initiative was born and has thrived, now surpassing $1.1 million in funds granted to regional researchers. Our one-of-a-kind educational programs have taken root and blossomed; programs such as: Breast or GYN Cancer 101, Peer Advocates Lending Support (PALS), the Healing Arts Initiative (yes, YOGA!), Evening Educational Webinars, the Advanced Breast Cancer Seminar, the Gynecologic Cancer Seminar, and Surviving and Thriving on Aromatase Inhibitors have become templates for other groups and organizations to use in building their own great programs.
Our unparalleled support programs have built solid, thriving survivor communities because we listened as those we served expressed their needs. Thousands have felt heard and understood throughout their treatment and beyond. It has been the honor of my lifetime to walk with them through what has often been devastatingly steep terrain.
The Coalition remains strong, relevant, and well-positioned for this transition in leadership. I am confident that we have created a successful, community minded transition plan. As our search committee works to select a new Executive Director, our staff and Board of Directors will ensure our mission remains central to everything we do: to cultivate community among those touched by a breast or gynecologic cancer; to empower informed decision making through education, support, and advocacy; and to advance breast cancer research in our region.
These are exciting times. It is my impassioned hope that you will continue to support this outstanding organization so we are perfectly positioned to continue the essential work before us. And we do have work to do… because awareness was never enough.
With deepest gratitude,
This Message appeared in the Autumn 2023 issue of “Voices of the Ribbon.”