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4 new board members join Pittsburgh affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Four new board members to the Pittsburgh affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation will take their seats as the local group works to get past a controversy involving the national organization, which stopped, then restarted, funding to Planned Parenthood clinics last year.

The funding decisions hurt the breast cancer charity's image, donations and volunteerism at some of its 122 affiliates and prompted the resignation of its founder and other senior officials.

Kathy Purcell, CEO of the Pittsburgh affiliate, said the organization acknowledged those difficulties when interviewing new board members, whose appointments were announced Tuesday.

“We brought up the incident just in terms of what we've being doing all along, which is to be pretty open about how it wasn't a great year for us, and this is where we see us going,” Purcell said. “For us, we go back to what our mission is and reminding people that, one, we're still here, and, two, we need their support in order to carry out the mission.”

And that mission is to combat breast cancer.

New board members are appointed each April at the beginning of the foundation's fiscal year, Purcell said. Members serve two-year terms. The latest appointments are part of that cycle, not a response to the controversy, she said.

The national organization in February cancelled $680,000 for mammogram vouchers offered through Planned Parenthood. It quickly reversed itself, and officials apologized.

“In some ways it's the sense of learning from your mistakes and then moving forward,” Purcell said.

Joining the 14-member board effective April 1 are Philip DenBleyker, Stephanie Dutton, Nathan Rost and Mark Schneider.

Susan Ely, a nurse practitioner with the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, was named the board's president. Ely had served as vice president.

DenBleyker of Wilkinsburg is director of clinical services at Express Scripts; Dutton of Pine is chief operating officer of UPMC Cancer Center; Rost of Murrysville is vice president and manager in government reporting at PNC Bank; and Schneider of Oakmont is director of finance for Heritage Valley Health System.

Money raised in the Pittsburgh area doesn't go directly to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania hasn't requested grants.

Last year's Race for the Cure raised nearly $2 million and attracted 27,000 people, including 3,000 cancer survivors, said Nick Guzan, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh affiliate.

This year's Race for the Cure is set for May 12, Mother's Day, in Oakland's Schenley Park. For more information, visit www.komenpittsburgh.org.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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