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Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Health, Science & Technology | 11 comments

Check Before You RT: Komen CEO Compensation Tweet Rings False

Updated 4 February, in the wee hours of the morning:
An alert reader, who looked at Schedule J more thoroughly than I did, noticed that former Komen CEO Hala Moddelmog, the woman who stepped down in November 2009, received $279,734 the following fiscal year as part of her severance package. Others receiving severance: Annetta Hewko ($134,483), Kimberly Earle ($271,781) and Marianne Alciati ($208,231). Holy cow. That’s $894,000 – almost a million dollars – in severance.

Updated 3 February in wee hours of the morning:
The key message of this post still stands — check before you tweet.

However, Susan G. Koman CEO Nancy Brinker is very generously compensated. A reader pointed me to the SGK IRS filing for fiscal 2010 (April 2010-March 2011, pdf), which reveals that CEO Nancy Brinker had a salary of $417,171. As CEO from Nov 2009 – March 2010, and the IRS filing shows no reported compensation.

According to CharityNavigator, the median nonprofit CEO salary in the south (SGK is headquartered in Dallas) was $269,057 in 2010. For health NFPs, it was $144,080.

And Komen? They have yet to return my phone call or respond to my email or tweet.

Oh. Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards? $319,245, in New York City (Fiscal 2010, 990, pdf)

@JessGrose on Komen and PPH

Contrary to a very popular tweet, the current CEO of the Susan G. Komen Foundation does not appear to make almost $500,000 a year.

According to Charity Navigator, Hala G. Moddelmog, the former president and CEO who left the organization in 2009, made $456,437 for the fiscal year that ended March 2010.

That was two years ago. The current CEO is Nancy Brinker, who is reported as “not compensated” in that earlier report. I’ve not found any published report that her non-compensated status has changed. What I did find was a 2011 assertion that Brinker takes no salary, an assertion from someone who has no love for Komen. There has been no annual report published on the Komen web site since 2010.

Update: I’ve tweeted Komen and sent email asking for confirmation that CEO Brinker remains non-compensated, per the most recent charity watchdog report.

The tweet, by Slate Senior Editor Jessica Grose (@JessGrose), references an October 2010 Slate article. The article asserts a figure for an unnamed CEO, a figure for which the author (a cancer survivor writing a review of a book criticizing breast cancer research) provides no source:

The CEO of the Komen Foundation, who earns $459,406 a year (more than 5,000 race entry fees), could try living on the wages of your average oncologist—$250,000 a year—and top up the fund with that extra $200,000 or so.

Run away from unsubstantiated claims like this, even if they make your heart go all a-flutter.

I have heartburn about much of what goes on under the Komen name, not the least being their trademark claim for the cure. And I think our focus on breast cancer blinds us to preventable disease: the number one killer of women in America is heart disease.

But don’t drum up opposition using a lie.

What about the other data point, that Komen provides only $680,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening?

According to the most recent consolidated annual report (2010, pdf), Komen “paid for” 625,000 breast screenings “last year.” Annual screenings cost? $46,861,000. It’s on page 14. Who did those screenings? Komen doesn’t say. AP reports:

Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before, going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services.


According to Planned Parenthood, its centers performed more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants.

At that ratio, Komen should be sending all of its screening dollars to PPH. (Yes, I know that the Komen data are, to be kind, vague. But still: the Komen annual report suggests the screenings cost $75 each, but PPH is getting them for $4?)

What’s really bad about this decision is that local breast cancer screenings are funded by local Komen affiliate money. National money goes to research. This is another reason the juxtaposition of data points is a false argument; the CEO is not involved in those local decisions, other than to bless the organizations eligible for grants.

What’s good is that it’s less than 2 percent of the money raised for screenings. PPH isn’t very high on local Komen affiliate priorities. That might explain why Komen made this decision.

Key take-away: if a tweet tweaks your heartstrings or elevates your blood pressure, ignore the knee-jerk click to retweet! I almost did it myself when I saw this one, it was so outrageous. But my rational mind said, “that just does not sound right.”

I’m glad I waited.

:: Follow me on Twitter!

RT @kegill: Komen CEO Compensation Tweet Rings False @JessGrose | CEO Brinker salary $0; screening funds from locals not nat’l!/kegill/status/164668374931095552