Livestrong CEO resigns after less than 1 year

Author: the associated press
Published: Updated:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The chief executive and president of Livestrong resigned Tuesday after less than a year on the job, another blow to the cancer foundation that has struggled with sharp declines in donations and revenue since founder Lance Armstrong’s performance-enhancing drug use scandal

Chandini Portteus said she wanted to focus on her family. She was brought in to help rebuild Livestrong, but the foundation now finds itself with yet another leadership change as its once-global brand continues to shrink. Greg Lee, the chief financial officer for Livestrong for nearly 10 years, will serve as president.

“It has been a privilege and an honor serving the Livestrong Foundation,” Portteus said in a statement released by Livestrong. “At this time, I am concluding my leadership in order to focus on my family. I will continue to support the organization and its mission and I’m proud of what we had achieved together.”

Portteus did not respond to telephone and text messages seeking comment.

Livestrong had two straight years of sharp declines before Portteus took over in early 2015 at an annual salary of $350,000.

According to federal financial records, Livestrong’s 2013 donations dipped from nearly $23 million to $15 million after Armstrong’s televised admission of drug use. It also took a 38 percent dive that year in commercial revenue after sponsorships were canceled or not renewed.

Livestrong’s 2014 financial report, filed at the end of 2015, showed a further 29 percent drop in revenue and donations down to less than $12 million. The report also noted a $10 million dip in total assets.

Records show that Livestrong donations have fallen 70 percent since 2009, the year Armstrong came out of retirement to finish third at the Tour de France, the race he won a record seven times. Armstrong was later stripped of those victories.

Even with those declines, the charity remains strong financially based on $92 million in reported assets, said Daniel Borochoff, founder of CharityWatch.

“They have a lot of time to rebuild their reputation and regain donor and public support,” Borochoff said. “They have significant reserves. People don’t need to be panicky this group will be folding.”

Livestrong board chair Candice Aaron said charity will remain vigorous in its work.

“Livestrong remains 100 percent devoted to serving people affected by cancer now and continues its legacy of outstanding service and leadership in the cancer community,” Aaron said.

Aaron noted the foundation’s 10-year agreement to give $50 million to the new University of Texas Medical School. A Livestrong spokeswoman said the first payment of $500,000 was made last year with quarterly payments scheduled in the future.

Portteus came to Livestrong from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer foundation. She was hired after former CEO Doug Ulman left in 2014 for Columbus, Ohio-based Pelotonia.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor, started the charity as the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 and it grew into a $500 million global brand. He was removed from its board of directors in late 2012, around the same time the foundation changed its name.

Armstrong had stayed away from the foundation until October 2015, when he participated in the annual Livestrong Challenge weekend, the organization’s largest fund-raising event. Online records show Armstrong helped raise about $130,000.

“Hopefully the board and leadership team can re-establish a vision like we once had to make the organization great again,” Armstrong said.

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