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Komen Philadelphia mobilizes nearly 100 activists to lead an aggressive charge against breast cancer in the African-American community

Komen Philadelphia’s “Know Your Girls: Activist Community Kickoff” puts the wheels in motion for a grassroots campaign aimed at moving Philadelphia off the top ten list for African-American breast cancer mortality.

On February 12, 2019 Susan G. Komen Philadelphia kicked off an aggressive grassroots campaign to support its ongoing initiative to bring about African-American breast health equity in its 15-county service area and beyond. Currently in the U.S. African-American women are about 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women. Moreover, the Philadelphia metro area ranks #9 on a list of U.S. areas with the highest rates of late-stage diagnosis and breast cancer mortality among black women. In addition to its year-round programs to educate, empower and connect African Americans with free screening and treatment programs, Komen Philadelphia is attacking breast cancer head on by recruiting individuals possessing the leadership, influence and connection to key at-risk African-American populations to help carry out and accelerate their mission of education and action.

Komen Philadelphia hand-selected these individual “recruits” to attend the Activist Community Kickoff, choosing leaders they knew had the passion and commitment to carry out educational and support programs in their own communities, including universities, faith groups and corporate settings with high percentage of African-American employees. The majority of the attendees also offer strong potential for opening the door between Komen Philadelphia and at-risk populations that, after nearly three decades of outreach, remain “in the shadows” and do not regularly practice early detection.

The Kickoff introduced the group to the local mission of Know Your Girls—a PSA-driven campaign started last spring by Susan G. Komen and national Ad Council—provide in-depth insights from “professionals on the battlefield” on the current landscape for African-American women and breast cancer, inspire attendees with stories from their peers already at work on the initiative, and provide tools so that every recruit can customize an effective program that will educate and motivate women in their community to understand their risk, take better care of their breast health and inspire loved ones around them to do the same.

“Komen Philadelphia’s new, more aggressive initiative in the African-American community began when I heard two hard facts,” said Elaine I. Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia. ONE: African-American women in the U.S. are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. TWO: Philadelphia ranks number nine in the country in terms of metro areas with the highest rates of late-stage diagnoses and breast cancer mortality among African-American women. “

“We are making progress—important progress. But, as any one of my staff members will tell you… as anyone who knows me will tell you… when it comes to our breast cancer mission, things cannot get done quickly enough. Everything has to happen yesterday,” Grobman continued. “To put it simply, we need more boots on the ground so we can reach more women not only faster, but in ways that make an immediate impact. That is exactly what this Know Your Girls Activist Community represents.”

 The mobilization event had a strong show of support from local influencers.

Speakers and educators included

  • Elaine I. Grobman, Chief Executive Officer, Susan G. Komen Philadelphia
  • Reverend Leroy Miles, Jr., Associate Pastor, Pastoral Care and Counselling, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church
  • Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, District 2, Philadelphia City Council
  • Elizabeth Kaspern, Senior Vice-President, Chief Retail Services Officer, TruMark Financial® Credit Union
  • Angelina Perryman, Vice President of Administration, Perryman Construction Service, Inc.; Co-chair, Komen Philadelphia Know Your Girls
  • Sherry Lee Stevens, General Manager, First District Plaza, Grand Ballroom Philadelphia; Co-chair, Komen Philadelphia Know Your Girls
  • “The Current Landscape and the Critical Need to Mobilize Our Forces.” Alliric I. Willis, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development; Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. Dr. Willis is also the Physician Leader and Community Health Needs Specialist for for Komen Philadelphia’s “Know Your Girls” initiative.
  • “Knowing Your Girls: The Specifics of African-American Breast Health.”Nia Bailey, M.A.Ed., RT(T), Radiation Therapist, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute
  • Together for West Philadelphia.Barry D. Mann, MD, Chief Academic Officer, Main Line Health; Vice Chairman for Education, Department of Surgery; Program Director, Lankenau Surgical Residency; Professor of Surgery, Sidney Kimmel College of Medicine Thomas Jefferson University.
  • Leveraging the Potential of College Communities.Ann Phalen, PhD, CRNP, NNP-BC, Dean of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, Gwynedd Mercy University.
  • Officer Roslyn Talley, Recruitment Instructor, Philadelphia Police Department
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