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Nancy  Goodman Brinker

Nancy Goodman Brinker

Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Nancy Goodman Brinker

Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure


Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement. Her journey began with a simple promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything possible to end the shame, pain, fear, and hopelessness caused by this disease. In one generation, the organization that bears Komen’s name has changed the world.

Shortly after Komen’s death from breast cancer at the age of 36, Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982. She faced an immediate uphill battle: newspapers balked at printing the words “breast cancer,” no one talked openly about the disease, there were no “800” numbers, no Internet, and few (if any) support groups. Few treatment options existed for breast cancer patients and limited resources were committed to the disease. In a matter of years, Brinker broke the silence around breast cancer and Komen for the Cure is now the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find a cure. Today, the organization has invested more than $2.2 billion in breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment.

Brinker’s creativity in raising awareness led to programs that at the time were revolutionary: In 1983, she founded the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which is now the world’s largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer. She also pioneered cause-related marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer through businesses that share Komen’s commitment to ending the disease forever. Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s unwavering advocacy for breast cancer survivors led to new legislation and greater government research funding. Major advances in breast cancer research have been touched by hundreds of millions of dollars in Komen funding.

Brinker’s determination to create a world without breast cancer is matched by her passion for enlisting every segment of society—from leaders to citizens—to participate in the battle. In 2009, President Barack Obama honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for this work. The same year, she was named Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the United Nations’ World Health Organization, where she continues her mission to put cancer control at the top of the world health agenda. In 2013, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and President and Mrs. Bush, Brinker helped launch the Pink-Ribbon Red-Ribbon Initiative in Tanzania, Africa.

In 2010, Brinker released her New York Times best-selling memoir, Promise Me, an inspirational story of her transformation from bereaved sister to the undisputed leader of the ongoing international movement to end breast cancer. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008. From 2001 to 2003, she served as US Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary and most recently served as US Chief of Protocol from 2007 to 2008, where she was responsible for overseeing all protocol matters for visiting heads of state and presidential travel abroad. In 2008, President George W. Bush appointed her to The Kennedy Center Board of Trustees.

She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the prestigious Mary Woodard Lasker Public Service Award, the Trumpet Foundation’s President’s Award, the Independent Women’s Forum Barbara K. Olson Woman of Valor Award, the Champions of Excellence Award presented by the Centers for Disease Control, the Porter Prize presented by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and the Forbes Trailblazer Award. She has also been recognized as one of Ladies’ Home Journal's 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century and among Biography magazine's 25 Most Powerful Women in America.

Speech Topics

The Art of Seeing the Invisible

Drawing on her 30-year experience transforming a small living-room operation into a billion-dollar global network against breast cancer, Ambassador Brinker shares the leadership lessons that every executive and employee needs to know to build their company, energize their teams, strengthen their brand, and institutionalize a culture of innovation to stay ahead of the competition and achieve world-class results. Ambassador Brinker motivates corporate audiences in every industry and sector to excel in “the art of seeing the invisible”—pursuing bold goals that may seem invisible and making them inevitable. This presentation is ideal for senior executive retreats and company annual meetings.

The Power of One

One of the nation’s foremost social entrepreneurs and a global activist who has inspired millions around the world, Ambassador Brinker empowers audiences of all ages and backgrounds to embrace “the power of one”—the ability of every individual to make a difference in their communities, companies, countries, and the world. Drawing on her remarkable life experience as a breast cancer survivor, catalyst of an international health movement, US Ambassador and US Chief of Protocol, Brinker shares a unique lesson for personal and professional fulfillment to help every individual lead a life of success and significance. This presentation is ideal personal/professional development conferences.

The Patient Empowerment Revolution

A former member of the President’s Cancer Panel, the United Nations World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control, and one of America’s foremost patient advocates for a quarter century, Ambassador Brinker addresses the key challenges facing the delivery of affordable, accessible healthcare in the United States and around the world today. Drawing on her pioneering experience of transforming the way the world talks about and treats breast cancer—and warning how the baby boom will become an unprecedented “cancer boom”—Ambassador Brinker argues that today’s “patient empowerment revolution” will only succeed if patient-centered care becomes the central organizing philosophy of a 21st century healthcare system. This presentation is ideal for the healthcare industry and associations.

Brave Enough!

The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, and one of Biography magazine’s 25 Most Powerful Women in America, Ladies Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Women of the 20thCentury, and Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2008, Ambassador Brinker energizes women executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners to overcome the unique challenges facing female business leaders and seize the unprecedented opportunities in today’s business world. Drawing on her own experience of founding, building, and guiding the world’s largest network of breast cancer survivors and activists, Ambassador Brinker inspires women to be “brave enough” to pursue their professional ambitions, persevere in the face of barriers, and become mentors and models to the next generation of women leaders. This presentation is ideal for women’s business conferences and meetings.

Winning the War!

As one of the world’s foremost cancer advocates, a three-decade cancer survivor and catalyst of the global grassroots breast cancer movement, Ambassador Brinker inspires cancer patients and their families to win their personal war with this devastating disease while urging the international community to recognize and confront the coming “cancer tsunami.” Warning that the global cancer burden will more than double in the coming decades—with perhaps 27 million cancer cases every year—Ambassador Brinker calls for a unprecedented and urgent international campaign to save the lives of millions around the world. This presentation is ideal for cancer patients/survivors networks and international health organizations.