V Week Chat: Susan Braun
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, Susan Braun, the new CEO of the V Foundation, stops by to help celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN.
In the 19 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here.
Braun assumed her new position Sept. 17 after a national search, succeeding Nick Valvano, who led the V Foundation for 13 years. She recently served as the executive director at Commonweal in California, as well as CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Send your questions now and join Braun Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:00 PM)
Susan is here!
Did you know or have any interactions with Jimmy V or his family prior to taking this job?
Susan Braun (2:02 PM)
I did not meet Jimmy V, but knew all about him and his coaching and his life journey because I come from a family of basketball fans. I have also known Nick Valvano for years, so I had some connection to the family before coming here.
What's been the biggest challenge since you took over the foundation?
Susan Braun (2:02 PM)
Getting my arms around the phenomenal opportunities that are before us, especially with respect to the incredible opportunities in cancer research.
You've worked for a few charities, specifically charities with ties to cancer...what is it about that kind of work that draws you?
Susan Braun (2:03 PM)
When I was a young mother, I lost my college roomamate to breast cancer. She had two young children and I was heart broken and decided I needed to do what I could to make a difference in the fight against cancer. I have been trying to fulfill that promise ever since.
Al (San Diego)
How impressed are you that the V Foundation is able to give 100% of every donation to research?
Susan Braun (2:04 PM)
I think that the funding model here at the V Foundation stands out among charities. It's extraordinary that we have the option to fund operations through endowment for 20 years. To be able to spend that much directly on our mission is a real gift.
Are you a big basketball fan? Who's yoru team?
Susan Braun (2:06 PM)
You're going to get me in trouble here! Yes, I am a big basketball fan. My first memory, literally, is on the basketball floor. My father coached girls basketball in Iowa. Every March is a time of celebration of family gathering in my large family because of college basketball. It's been part of every memory of mine in my family's existence. And I won't mention my favorite team, but I will say I went to school at Maryland....take what you want from that!
How will you go about leading the foundation to decide which research to fund?
Susan Braun (2:07 PM)
I have the very good fortune here of working with very gifted people on staff and especially with the scientific advisory board, all of whom are volunteers. They provide us with flawless guidance in how to utilize our mission dollars in the most effective way possible.
In what areas do you think you can help the organization grow?
Susan Braun (2:08 PM)
We all believe that it will be important for us to grow in terms of revenue as well in terms of the depth and breadth of our mission. How much money we raise and where we spend it, and how much more we are able to help in cancer research.
As someone who has just joined the foundation, how do you think having a company like ESPN backing the V Foundation will help?
Susan Braun (2:09 PM)
How much luckier could someone be to come into an organization and have ESPN be a partner? Working with ESPN has already been a highlight of my experience here. The reach they have. The insight they have in what we do. And the way the heart of ESPN is in this mission is extraordinary. I feel extremely, extremely lucky. We all do.
What did you know about the organization before joining?
Susan Braun (2:11 PM)
A lot, actually. I am one who does a lot of homework before starting into something new. So, I was able to both talk to people who knew about the foundation. I spent a lot of time with board members. I spent a lot of time with Nick. My own experience in the cancer community helped me have a good handle on what the foundation was about. I came here to North Carolina and met with the members and the staff. At every turn, the responses were unerringly positive.
What's been the best lesson you've learned in your time working with charitable organizations?
Susan Braun (2:13 PM)
The first and I think most important lesson is never, never forget your mission. The second is about transparency, which relates to good governing, good operating procedures, clean financial and overall good business sense. I've also learned that no two organizations are alike. There is so much great and important work to do in our world that can be done and is being done by tax exempt organizations that the world of possibilities is vast.
Did the foundation approach you about joining their team or did you pursue them?
Susan Braun (2:14 PM)
The foundation hired a search firm to conduct a search for Nick's successor and it was the principle of the search firm that first contacted me.
What is your vision for the future of the V foundation and raising money for cancer research? Do you think there's a glass ceiling?
Susan Braun (2:15 PM)
I think we would be limited only by a limited imagination. I believe that Americans are very charitable people and recognize that cancer is one of the most difficult of the human conditions. If you put that together with an organization with great values, a strong beginning and a reach to so many people, with the help of ESPN, the sky is the limit.
Will (Austin, TX)
what was it like on your first day?
Susan Braun (2:16 PM)
I sit here surrounded by my colleagues who are all laughing and saying "great! It was all great!" Interestingly, as I sat at my desk, it didn't feel new. What what said to me is that I had joined a place that feels like family already and that have gone out of their way to make me feel like an important part of this great team.
Susan Braun (2:18 PM)
We have a Twitter chat with four of the members of our scientific committee, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET just use #AskTheV in your question. And thanks to ESPN, you have been awesome.
Buzzmaster (2:18 PM)
Thanks for chatting Susan!