When Nancy Brinker’s sister, Suzy, died of breast cancer at the age of 36 in 1980, Nancy promised herself she would fulfill her sister’s plea to help others battling the disease. In 1982, she established Susan G. Komen for the Cure, today recognized as the nation’s leading catalyst in the fight against breast cancer. Currently, the Komen Foundation boasts more than 75,000 volunteers working through a network of 118 U.S. and a growing number of international Affiliates.
Ms. Brinker also founded the Komen Foundation’s signature program - the Komen Race for the Cure®, the largest series of 5K run/fitness walks in the world. Since its origin in 1983 in Dallas, Texas, the Komen Race for the Cure® Series has grown from one local Race with 800 participants to a national series of 113 Races with 1.5 million participants expected in 2003.
In 2001, President Bush appointed Ms. Brinker to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. In 1986, President Reagan appointed Ms. Brinker to the 18-member National Cancer Advisory Board as one of six laypeople. In 1992, she was appointed by President Bush to the three-member President's Cancer Panel to monitor the progress of the National Cancer Program and was selected by Vice President Quayle to serve as the chairman of a subcommittee to study the progress of breast cancer research and education in the United States and around the world.
Prior to assuming her position as Ambassador, she served on the boards of Manpower, Inc., United Rentals, Inc., and U.S. Oncology. In addition, Ms. Brinker served on the national advisory boards of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, Women’s Health Resource Center, Women’s Health Initiative, the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship and the National Cancer Institute. She is a former board member of such not-for-profit organizations as the National Jewish Coalition Board of Governors, New York University’s Medical School Foundation, and National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project. Ms. Brinker has testified before the United States Democratic Policy Committee’s Congressional Breast Cancer Forum and participated in the International Women’s Forum.
Ms. Brinker is the recipient of numerous national awards including: Sword of Ignatius Loyola Award from Saint Louis University, The Champions of Excellence Award presented by the Centers for Disease Control, the Healthcare Humanitarian Award presented by the Global Conference Institute, the ASCO Special Recognition Award, Toastmasters International Top Five Speakers for 2001 Award, the Sisters Network 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award, Ladies’ Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, Biography Magazine’s The 25 Most Powerful Women in America, the 1999 Caring Award, the 2000 Cino del Duca Award, the first Salomon Smith Barney Extraordinary Achievement Award, the James Ewing Layman Award from the Society of Surgical Oncology, Albert Einstein’s Sarnoff Volunteer Award, Ladies’ Home Journal’s Top 10 Champions of Women’s Health, among many others. In addition, she was inducted into the Cancer Research and Treatment Fund, Inc. Cancer Survivors Hall of Fame.