Organization: Susan G. Komen
Volunteer Service: Since 2000

What is the mission of Susan G. Komen?
Susan G. Komen’s mission is to save lives, with 25% of the organization’s donations going toward finding breakthroughs to prevent and cure breast cancer. The other 75% goes back into the community through programs that raise awareness of breast cancer and provide people access to care and early detection services. The ability to afford treatment should not be a barrier to survival.

Tell us about your volunteer history with this organization.
I first got involved when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She asked if I would join the planning committee for the Susan G. Komen’s Race For The Cure, which was just starting up in Milwaukee. I gladly accepted in support of her.  I continued to volunteer and participate in the Race For The Cure until I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself in 2005. For the next few years, I had to step back while I went through my treatments which included a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation and reconstructive surgery.  After my recovery, I decided I wanted to get re-involved with Komen. In 2009, I was asked to chair The Race for a Cure, which I did for the next four years.  During that time, I oversaw a committee of 40 people and helped grow the race from 12,000 participants to just under 20,000 participants—over that span, we raised almost $4 million. After that, I transitioned onto the board of directors.

What is your current involvement with Susan G. Komen?  
I currently sit on the board of directors and organize or participate in events. As board members, we govern our budget and have final say over where our grant dollars go. I also sit on the fundraising committee within the Board where I solicit sponsors and secure fundraising. In addition, I reimagined our More thank Pink Gala and chaired for the past two years.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
Giving back to others or helping others is the most rewarding part of volunteering.  As strange as it sounds, getting cancer was one of the biggest gifts I have ever received because it gave me a different perspective on life. I take what I’ve experienced to help other people, and I find it extremely rewarding.

Tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had with your organization.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people who have been helped through Komen dollars. One person on my committee, for example, found a lump but did not have insurance. Through the Komen fund she was able to get a mammogram that detected breast cancer and ultimately saved her life. It’s those moments that make you realize your efforts can help other people.

What have you learned about your community as a result of volunteering?
I believe that we live in a very generous community.  I think the stronger we can make our community, the better everyone else is in the community. By giving back, we can make our community a better place to live.

What other messages would you like to share with colleagues?
If you have the opportunity and the passion for something, I encourage you to get involved. When you give back to something you are passionate about, it is a natural labor of love and does not feel like an effort. I encourage everyone to give it a go.

Also, I am so very appreciative of the bank’s support of me in my role as a board member. They have been a huge supporter of the organization financially—generously sponsoring our Komen walk and gala—and they give me the professional support to grow as a board member.