The Passion Behind the Cause

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: From Susan G. Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

Joining us on the show today is Ed Dandridge, Komen’s Chair of the Board of Directors. With more than 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles with four Fortune 500 companies, Ed serves on executive management teams of leading global companies and works closely with Boards of Directors. Ed is here today to share what drives his passion in the fight against breast cancer. And to put his money where his mouth is, he is also going to share details about a Board match happening this month where Komen’s Board of Directors are personally matching funds donated to Komen. Ed, welcome to the show!

[00:00:53] Ed Dandridge: Hey, it’s great to be here and thank you for having me.

[00:00:55] Adam Walker: I’m really excited to talk to you and really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. So you serve as the chair of the board of Directors for Komen. So first I’d like to ask, do you have a personal connection to breast cancer?

[00:01:09] Ed Dandridge: I do, and thank you for asking that question. I think if most of us were to step back and think about our family health many people would realize that they do also have a personal connection to breast cancer.

In my case I go back almost. 30 years to when my wife and I got married, we were lucky enough that all four of our grandmothers were still alive vibrant and in good health for their age. And they participated in our wedding ceremony. And then within a short period after that, matter of a year or two, we lost all four of them to different forms of cancer.

But what became apparent to my wife and I particularly, As we start thinking about our own family and children is family health and understanding genetically what we may be predisposed to and breast cancer runs in both of our families. And also recognizing that in certain communities, particularly underserved communities like the African-American community, historically, family medical records are not always well documented or shared.

There are challenges with health access and other issues. And so for me, recognizing. The importance of leading from the front, not just from my family, but for other families. Breast cancer is something with proper access to health services that can be screened for, can be detected. And it felt like an issue that.

Had a lot of momentum behind. It touches so many of us across society and in my own house. I knew that it was not enough just to sort of actively make sure that the women in my family and our children are, are properly screened, but that others have that same access. And so, I wanted to do more than just talk or write a check.

I wanted to actively get involved.

[00:02:56] Adam Walker: It’s so important. I mean, getting involved such a critical piece and I really appreciate that you’ve done that. So what was it about Komen that in particular that encouraged you to get involved on the Komen board? What, what makes Komen different?

[00:03:10] Ed Dandridge: Well, Komen has a, an unrivaled history and a very unique legacy.

But for me, as someone who spent the majority of my 30 year career in corporate affairs and marketing roles, I was certainly very aware of the. As I got exposed to the organization, which was really maybe four and a half to five years ago, I recognized that Komen was at a pivot point very, very well known in local communities around the country as well as a strong national brand with some very specific programs.

It was most well known for a very ubiquitous mark for me, the opportunity to help. Paul Schneider, the CEO, who I think of as my partner. I am honored to serve as her ally and her trusted counselor and partner and advocate on the board, recognizing that it was a moment of opportunity and transformation for, to reach a lot of communities not just the communities around the country that traditionally served, but in particular underserved and urban and underrepresented communities.

For me, the Komen platform, Its emphasis on research, advocacy, inclusion in trials, engagement, ability to sort of shape legislation regulation across the country. It was the ideal platform and operation and I just sort of thought rather than reinvent the wheel to, to get involved with an organization at scale with impact to do what I could do however much or little to help them have even more efficacy.

[00:04:43] Adam Walker: I love that. I mean, that’s great to, to get involved with an organization that’s already doing so much good and support them in doing even more. Good. And you’re right, Paula is amazing. So, I’m glad that you’re getting to work with her on that. So, so you mentioned this in your, your, your conversation earlier. Tell us more about your passion behind health equity and how you feel Komen’s work in that area is make an impact that aligns with your own vision.

[00:05:08] Ed Dandridge: Well, you know,there’s a couple ways I could look at it. Some of which would be very predictable and that you probably would hear cause they’re kinda conventional.

For me I will come at it really from sort of an economic pro-growth perspective, particularly given the current economic headwinds that we’re seeing on a macroeconomic basis around the world. Simply put You don’t have a healthy economy at the global scale if you do not have productivity and inclusion from women at all levels of the workforce, whether it’s corporate, entrepreneurship, small business, whether it’s governance.

P and L rules. We’ve got to have full and equal equitable participation for women. There are many inhibitors to that and some of which have to do with health and health outcomes and access to health. So if you can’t have a healthy economy, if you don’t have a fully inclusive economy, you can’t have a fully inclusive economy if you don’t have.

Actively involved in the workforce in the labor market as well as the ownership economy. You can’t have that if you don’t have healthy women. And you can’t have healthy women if you don’t have healthy families because so often women are the cheap household procurement officers as cheap decision makers.

They’re responsible not only for their own health, but for their family’s health. And so as you start to work it down to a very. Individual circumstance, making sure that women have easy, equitable, constant access to health services, particularly with respect to breast cancer screening has real economic consequences and impact for our economy, for our society, for our country now and in the future.

Just to give you an example, I think we saw it during the pandemic so many. Opting or being forced to drop outta the workforce in order to take care of families, parents, spouses, siblings, children. That is just a microcosm of what happens when we don’t have equitable access to healthcare productivity.

Sufferers, family suffer our economic growth flags, but most of all, Individual lives are impacted, and health outcomes become ever more disparate. And so for me, I can look at it from a macroeconomic standpoint. I can look at it from a racial equity or health equity perspective. But you shouldn’t have to sort of choose the lens.

It’s a rather holistic issue and a holistic solution.

[00:07:43] Adam Walker: Yeah, I mean, I love the way that you approached that. I mean, where you said you can’t have health equity without a fully in, or you can’t have a healthy economy without a fully inclusive economy. I mean, I I really like that statement, and then the way you sort of mapped it out from there across each domain was really helpful.

I appreciate you the way you think about that. So, I, I think I mentioned this in the intro. So I wanna expound on a little bit here. Komen has a board match this month. Can you give us the details about what that means and what that means for people’s Don?

[00:08:13] Ed Dandridge: Yes it is an annual activity that we do to close the year, the calendar year out with some momentum, and it really is a recognition of Paula and the leadership’s team really impressive efforts to build a high functioning, truly committed board.

And those of us who are privileged to serve on the Komen National Board recognize. Responsibility to leverage our influence and our affluence and the board matches really an opportunity for us to close out the year with a hundred percent commitment and contribution from the board. And to do it in a way that incentivizes and inspires others who may be longstanding donors to come or who are just getting.

Exposed to Komen to really leverage their own contributions. And we’re just honored to do it. And it will run through the end of the year. And, and we’re very optimistic and very excited to see where it takes us this year.

[00:09:10] Adam Walker: Yeah, me too. And it’s so important, you know, that people consider. That end of year giving it’s such a great cause and, you know, even just a few dollars can go a long way to make a big impact. So I appreciate…

[00:09:21] Ed Dandridge: Well that’s, I mean, you make an interesting point, which is that very often people sort of, you know, historically thought, well, you know how much, I don’t have a lot of disposable income and this is important to me, but. I don’t know that I can make a difference. And I do think that what we have seen in the donor economy and the ecosystem with much more socially connected forms of giving, whether it’s through GoFundMe or Kickstarter programs where there is a virality and a social.

Impact component to it. For us, it combined so much of what we do, whether it’s the race walks, it’s communal in nature, and you’re bringing people along and getting people inspired and activated and galvanized. This is just another form of that.

[00:10:04] Adam Walker: Yeah, I love that. I mean, and to your point, right, like if somebody can give even just a small $5 donation, but then also promote what Komen’s doing on social media that impact is so massive when there’s multiply across so many people.

[00:10:18] Ed Dandridge: That’s exactly it. We can start small and grow very quickly.

[00:10:22] Adam Walker: That’s right. That’s right. That’s the goal. That’s the goal. So last question. Do you have any final advice for our listeners on ways to get involved?

[00:10:32] Ed Dandridge: Well, there’s any number of ways to get involved with Komen. What I would say is it’s important for us.

To expose coming to as many people as possible. And there are any number of ways to get involved to, to get active. Obviously we do our race walks around the country. Those are culminated by a three day walk, which is sort of unlike a highlight of our annual activities. We actually have accessible do it near self fundraisers that help people sort of personally bring their own passion to it.

And those are all accessible on our website. There’s planned giving where people who are in a certain economic position as they’re thinking about trust and estate planning, you can set that up to be able to give multi-year plans, their social media, all kinds of Facebook challenges that are available.

And, you know, pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports. I think it probably is the fastest growing sport around the country. And so we’re now launching something called Gaming for the Cure, which is another form of local community engagement where people can play pickleball to raise money for the cure.

There’s always a need for us to have volunteers in any of our events, race walks, pickleball actually helping to support things like their. Challenges in social, getting involved on the administrative side. And then there’s the advocacy. We do a tremendous amount at the state and the national level in terms of getting people aware of legislation pa planned as well as pending and getting support.

Signing petitions, speaking to members of legislatures, letting them know that this is an important issue where funding is essential and access and equality are ever more important, and really just advocating for that, all of those opportunities on how to get involved as well as how to participate in this year’s.

Board donor match can be found at and I really hope all those folks who are listening in will be inspired, recognize the importance of this singular health issue and really find ways to get involved that are meaningful for them.

[00:12:41] Adam Walker: That’s right. That’s right. And that’s the, I think that’s the key, right? Get involved in ways that are meaningful to you, the listener. And there are so many ways to get involved. I think that might be the most comprehensive list I’ve ever heard, what you just put out there. So that was fantastic. And I did not know about the pickleball. So that’s kinda amazing.

[00:12:58] Ed Dandridge: Yeah, keep an eye out on that. You know, I do. This is just another example of what is such a treat for those of us who are on the board to work with Paula and her leadership team, Paula brings an entrepreneur, CEO owner mindset, and she really is a visionary and transformative mission executive.

And you can just see her imprint all over Covid and it’s entrepreneurship, it’s enterprising, opportunism, and finding new ways to get people involved and so pickleball. A lot of sense, particularly you think about the large demographic of people who are actively involved. It is the baby boomers and those of us who were born just after that baby boom generation.

Yeah. Who may have played tennis and other sports and are now moving into a different stage of our life, may have more disposable income, very much connected into networks. Pickleball is a great way to combine a passion with recreational activity and also meaningful, tangible, local and national fundraising on behalf of breast cancer.

[00:14:05] Adam Walker: I love that. I love that. Well, Ed, this has been just a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to join me on the show today.

[00:14:13] Ed Dandridge: No, it’s been all my pleasure, and thank you so much and for all those who are listening, and thank you for your continued support of Komen and our mission to end breast cancer in our lifetime.

[00:14:26] Adam Walker: Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit For more on breast cancer, visit Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog,