DALLAS — June 9, 2000 — Although researchers have made great strides in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and a growing number of women are surviving the disease, African Americans, despite lower incidence rates, continue to have the highest breast cancer mortality rates of any ethnic group. As a result of these statistics, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation launched a landmark breast cancer awareness and education project targeting African American women, which is called the African American Women's Initiative. The Komen Foundation's commitment to the African American community has remained strong with the recent announcement of six new members of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation African American National Advisory Committee (AANAC). In addition, 9 women who were members of AANAC last year will continue to serve on the committee in 2000.
"In the African American community, breast cancer is often not talked about and women do not know all of their detection and treatment options," said Mattye J. Willis, board member of AANAC and deputy director, The Witness Project, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "Our goal through the AANAC is to integrate educational programs in the African American community that promote breast health and help decrease the incidence and mortality rate of breast cancer in African American women."
In 1999, the inaugural year, AANAC began performing a needs analysis of breast cancer information and educational materials available to the African American community. Through this continuing evaluation, the committee is identifying resource gaps for African American women in the breast health arena and how it can work with the Komen Foundation to fill these needs.
"We wanted to ensure that AANAC was an active committee with a dedicated action plan in place," said Linda Frame, Director of Education, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "Now that we have the committee's mission statement and goals in place, we are developing immediate action plans and recommendations."
Goals and Objectives
The main objective of AANAC is to provide guidance and direction to the Komen Foundation related to programs designed to reduce the disparities in morbidity and mortality of breast cancer in the African American community. They will work with the Komen Foundation to establish partnerships with organizations to address issues related to breast cancer in the African American community. AANAC also will recommend and identify model programs that the Komen Foundation can support and will provide technical assistance to existing and new community programs funded by the Komen Foundation.
"We have learned over the last year that the key to success is to have programs that reflect the needs of African American women and effectively communicate the life-saving message of early detection," said Nancy Brinker, founding chair of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "We are always interested in identifying programs that we can support, and many of these programs have enabled us to forge successful, long-term partnerships with leading members of the African American community."
In March, AANAC held its first meeting of 2000 and began implementing its action plan. The committee has been divided into working groups that will evaluate new and existing programs in four different departments of the Komen Foundation: Grants, Education, Communications and Public Policy. These four subcommittees were designated based on the expertise and interests of the AANAC members, and each will work with Komen staff from these specific departments, as well as Komen Affiliates throughout the country.
African Americans Making a Difference
The AANAC is represented by a national advisory committee made up of experts and thought leaders from the African American community. This year six new members have joined the board including: La Verne Baker, Founder and President, SisterTeach Council, Dee M. Baldwin, Ph.D., R.N.; Founder and Presiding Officer, Project Breast Health, A. Jewel Banks, M.Ed., Community Service Coordinator, African American Breast Cancer Outreach Project, Patricia Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., Director of Education and Biomedical Research Development, National Institute of Environment Health Sciences, Elizabeth A. Patterson, M.D., and Phyllis J. Seward.
9 women who were members last year will continue to serve on the committee. These women include: Mary Louise Adams, Ph.D., R.N., C.S., F.N.P., Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin; Nadine L. Eads, M.S.N., F.N.P., C.S., Washington Hospital Center; Margo-Aminah Hardin, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Consultant, The Optimum Group; Karen Eubanks Jackson, National President and Founder of Sisters Network, Inc.; Selma Joyce Morris, M.Ed., Director, Sponsored Programs, Grady Health System; Noma L. Roberson, Ph.D., President and CEO, Roberson Consulting International; Sandra Millon Underwood, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Bonnie Wheatley, Director, Breast Cancer Early Detection Program., Alameda County Medical Center; and Mattye J. Willis, Deputy Director, The Witness Project, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
For more information about the qualifications and experiences of the individual members of the African American National Advisory Committee, please read their bios.
The Komen Foundation and African American Women
The Komen Foundation has a history in breast health education and research targeted to African Americans. Some of the first funding that directly affected African Americans came in 1985 when the Foundation funded a clinic at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Efforts continued and beginning in 1995, the Foundation initiated national grant funding for population-specific projects. The focus of the program is to identify unique needs, trends and barriers among specific populations, including African Americans. In 1999, the Komen Foundation provided millions of dollars in education and research grants targeting African Americans.
The Komen Foundation provides funding and general support for organizations and efforts in and for the African American community. In 1996, the Foundation began distributing breast self-exam cards specifically geared toward African Americans. In 1997, the Foundation developed guidelines for creating breast cancer education print materials for African Americans. Establishing the African American Women's Initiative was the next step in the Foundation's goal of improving breast health awareness among African Americans.
In 1999 and 2000, the Foundation helped to fund the annual conference of The Sister's Network®, the first national African American breast cancer survivors support organization. At the conferences, leaders from church groups and civic organizations were motivated and trained to implement breast cancer screening programs in their communities.