Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Race for the Cure®.
Nancy Brinker is the Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Race for the Cure®. Nancy established the Komen Foundation in 1982 to honor the memory of her sister, Susan, whom she had lost to the disease in 1980. The Race for the Cure® was created the following year in an effort to raise community awareness and funding for breast cancer education and scientific research. Today it is the world's largest 5K race series, with almost one million people participating in 109 cities nationwide. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $225 million for breast cancer research, education, and screening treatment programs across the country.
Not content with founding the largest breast cancer organization in the world, Brinker accepted President George W. Bush's nomination of Ambassador to Hungary in 2001, and her achievements there are equally impressive. She helped to preserve tax benefits and lower tariffs on U.S. companies doing business in Hungary. Brinker negotiated the hosting and training of the Free Iraqi Forces, an expatriate group who later joined coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, making Hungary the first European country to contribute to regime change in Iraq. Her groundbreaking efforts to advance the cause of women’s health in Hungary included a symposium and ceremonial walk across the country’s oldest bridge (lit pink for the occasion) to raise breast cancer awareness.
Brinker's remarkable life story is a profound testament to the possibility within all of us to effect positive change in the world. At the podium, Brinker shares her extraordinary journey from humble beginnings in Peoria, Illinois, to her philanthropic achievements in the fight against breast cancer, to her accomplished Ambassadorship in Eastern Europe. Her inspiring presentation reveals the power of hard work and perseverance in accomplishing the American dream.
Born in Peoria, Illinois, Brinker graduated from the University of Illinois and was trained at the Neiman Marcus Executive Training Program in Dallas, Texas. After hosting a talk show, she served as Director of Public relations for the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Before establishing the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Brinker worked as an account executive for Bozell, Inc. Public Relations. Brinker is the recipient of dozens of awards, including The Republic of Hungary’s Order of Merit, Medium Class, Cross Adorned with Star, for her work in advancing bilateral relations and in recognition of her charity activities. She was also given the Batthyány-Strattmann László Award for her outstanding contribution to the further development of public health co-operation between Hungary and the U.S., and with special appreciation for her initiatives and commitment to promote healthy lifestyles, to prevent and combat cancer.
In addition, Brinker was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Southern Methodist University, the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Toastmasters International Top Five Speakers for 2001 Award, and many more. Biography Magazine named her one of "The 25 Most Powerful Women in America" and Ladies’ Home Journal included Brinker in their list of the "100 most Important Women of the 20th Century." She served on over thirty public and private, corporate, civic and government boards, including Director of both the National Jewish Coalition Board of Governors and the Harvard University School of Public Health.
The author of Winning the Race: Taking Charge of Breast Cancer, The Race is One Step at a Time and the co-author of 1000 Questions About Women’s Health, Brinker has a son, Eric, and currently lives in Florida.