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Leading the Race for a Cure

Susan Braun

By Carrie Secondo
Susan Braun, B.A. '77, lost her close friend and college roommate to breast cancer.

"When she died, we were both 36 years old, both young mothers and I was shocked at how little I knew about breast cancer," said Braun. "I started asking other people and health professionals about breast cancer, and I found out just how little most people know about the disease," she said.

Since then, Braun has turned her personal mission--to raise awareness and prevention of breast cancer--into a career. As president and CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Braun has seen the organization grow dramatically since she took her post in 1996. During her tenure, the gross income increased from $26 million to more than $85 million per year and the number of U.S. affiliates has grown from 52 to 117.

Braun works with the foundation's staff and board of directors to support the foundation's mission: to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment.

Braun graduated from George Mason with bachelor's degrees in English and sociology, and received her master's degree in health sciences from the University of Maryland before earning her graduate certificate in international marketing from the University in Muenster, Germany.

Prior to joining the Komen Foundation, Braun served in the Oncology and Immunology Division at Bristol-Myers Squibb where her duties included patient advocacy, marketing, strategic planning, and public policy.

"I was working very closely with patient organizations to help them further their cause and I got to know the people at Komen Foundation well," Braun says.

When an opportunity became available to lead the staff of the nation's leading catalyst in the fight against breast cancer, Braun packed up her New Jersey home and headed south to Dallas, where the foundation's headquarters are located. She now lives in Coppell, Texas, with her husband and 11-year-old son, Alex.

The Komen Foundation was founded by Nancy Brinker to honor the memory of her sister Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36. The foundation has 40,000 volunteers working in its national affiliates. Internationally, the Komen Foundation is represented in three countries: Germany, Greece, and Italy. During the foundation's 2000 Komen Race for the Cure, a 5-kilometer walk, $40 million was raised by more than 1 million participants in 107 races all over the world, including Rome and Frankfurt.

Braun says the most fulfilling part of her job is being with women and men who have survived breast cancer. "Survivors remind me how great a toll this disease takes but also embody the hope that exists through early detection," she says.

The foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2002.

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