By Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director
“The power in people is stronger than people in power.” I don’t know who first uttered this phrase, but I do know that Breast Cancer Action has always been a people-powered organization.
Since our founding nearly 30 years ago, we’ve had an outsized impact because of the people who founded, led, joined, and supported Breast Cancer Action. Together we’ve boldly challenged the cancer industry and changed the conversation about breast cancer. We’ve exposed the hypocrisy behind countless pink ribbon fundraisers and achieved momentous wins against multi-billion dollar corporations.
Our members make our work possible. And together we’re able to make real and lasting change.
We’re able to do the work that matters most for our members because we’re not in the pocket of industry, which means we’re not taking the lead from people invested in maintaining the status quo when it comes to what’s possible or necessary. We do, however, always want to hear from you about the work that needs to be done and to get your take on the issues we’re working on.
This summer, we’re launching our next strategic planning process that we’ll kick off with a member survey. Five years ago, nearly 1,500 people participated in our survey. We hope to hear from even more of you this year. Keep an eye out next month for the survey and please take some time to let us know how we’re doing.
Breast Cancer Action has always pulled in passionate and committed people. And when I stepped into the role of executive director at Breast Cancer Action in early 2011, not only did the amazing governing Board impress me, I was struck by the engagement and commitment of former Board members, who continued to be involved in and support the work. Eight years later, a number of Board members I’ve worked closely with over the years have termed out. But lucky for me, even though they’ve stepped down, they haven’t stepped away.
For example, earlier this month I was in New York City and Provincetown for Breast Cancer Action events. And there I was, joined by former Board member Beverly Canin and staying with another former Board member and her partner, Ngina Lythcott and Byllye Avery. These wise and wonderful women have accomplished so much as leaders and activists over the decades, and we are stronger for all the ways they give to and support Breast Cancer Action.
In May it was time for Karen Klein, who served as our Board Chair the past three years, and Abigail Arons to term off the Board after six years of service. But even though their terms as leaders of the organization have ended, they remain deeply committed and have both chosen to stay active and involved in many areas of the organization. If you live in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll join us at Acting Out on June 17, where you’ll have the chance to meet and thank Abigail and Karen for their service.
We’re also helping to grow the next generation of activists and recently welcomed a new group of summer interns. Interns like Kavya Narendra-Babu, our Communications Intern; Emma Strand, our Strategic Planning Intern; and Edwina Wong, our Think Before You Pink® Intern bring new skills and enthusiasm to Breast Cancer Action and we’re so grateful for the ways they support our work and help us do even more! Often, an internship is the first step in a long-lasting relationship with our organization. After interning with us in 2013, Kristen Keller chose to frequently volunteer her time over the years, and she’s generously shared her many talents, contagious laugh, and positivity with us. Recently, she joined our staff in a temporary role, and we’re so grateful for all she’s helped us accomplish. At the end of this month we’ll say goodbye to Kristen and wish her luck as she begins her new career as a high school science teacher in the Bay Area. We’ll also say goodbye to our Communications Manager, Kira Jones, who has contributed to our work in countless ways with her seemingly endless talents, full-throated enthusiasm, and big-hearted passion. Kira first interned with Breast Cancer Action in 2007 and she’s promised to find new ways to stay involved.
Our talented, hard-working staff, devoted Board, and committed members all make our work possible.
And there’s a lot going on here this summer. We’re working hard to improve informed consent for breast implants, to pass legislation that allows lymphedema supplies to be covered by Medicare, and to stop a bipartisan group of industry-friendly Senators and Representatives from rolling back a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that decided naturally occurring genes are not patentable. Check out our 2019 summer issue of The Source for more details and be sure to follow us on social media (@BCAction on Facebook and Twitter). And, as always, help us spread the word.
Our power comes when we take action together. But it also comes from hearing from you. Reach out to us by email and social media or come to one of our upcoming events, like the one we’re having in North Carolina next week, to ask your questions and share feedback. Because people-powered means people-driven and led.