Meet the Staff at Komen Columbus: Julie McMahon

What events/people or experiences led you here to Komen Columbus?
When I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year later at the age of 43. My parents were both treated and declared cancer free, only to have recurrences in the past couple of years. My mom is now cancer free again, but my dad’s battle is ongoing and relies heavily on emerging research. I had always loved science and I loved policy and government, so I made a career goal of working to help advance research and policies which benefit those fighting cancer. I understand the urgency that comes with a cancer diagnosis- for those of us with a loved one with cancer waiting for developments in the lab to make it to the doctor’s office, every second counts.

I feel blessed to come to work every day and feel like we are helping give those facing breast cancer the tools they need to fight. Even more, I feel blessed to be part of an organization that is truly dedicated to helping those who don’t have the means to get preventive services like mammograms- which many of us take for granted. I know my mom almost didn’t get her mammogram- and it was a reminder from a friend at work that pushed her to not put hers off for another month- and we’ll never know, but that could have saved her life.

What do you do for Komen Columbus? How does your role help with Komen’s mission?
I am the Director of Mission, which means I coordinate and direct the funds we raise towards our mission of ending breast cancer. This happens in three major ways. First, our community and small grants program, which I manage through collecting outcomes and assisting the grantees in their programming when needed, as well as managing the grants review process with the help of our grant reviewers and Grants Chair, Yvonne Burry. Second, I work with our education committee, including our Speakers Bureau (headed by Bev Bailey) and with our Volunteer Coordinator, Natalie Guagenti, to spread awareness and education. Last but not least, I work with our Policy Chair, Mark Rickel, to make sure the voices of women facing breast cancer are heard by our government representatives. This means staying educated on the latest legislation at the state level and the way it might impact those affected with breast cancer and also working with other affiliates in Ohio. Komen has a national Advocacy Alliance that works on these issues on the federal level. For all of these areas, I work with our communications and events team to make sure we are promoting opportunities and our work to the public. We focus on the entire cancer continuum for all of our mission work, from breast cancer risk, prevention, screening, diagnosis treatment and survivorship, back to rescreening.

What (or whom) inspires you come to work every day?
I am the oldest of six kids, and I am always very startled and moved by the likelihood that me or one of my four sisters will one day have breast cancer. I work to make this a world where I never have to hold the hand of a friend or sister while they endure a chemo drip. I work to make this a world where no daughter drops her mother off at the hospital to have her breast surgically removed before she has to go to high school in the morning like I did in 2004. I work to make this a world where, until the day comes when that never happens, that in the meantime that mother and daughter and family live happily ever after.

What is the most memorable moment or event you’ve experienced with Komen Columbus? And why?

Julie, her sisters and mom at Disney World during Christmas 2010

Being at the Race was very special for me this year. I just started working here full-time in April and hadn’t been to a race yet! I think until you’ve been to one, you won’t really understand, but being a part of so many people full of hope and remembrance and reverence for life was just really moving and fulfilling. It made me really proud to know that these people who support us in the community trust us and I want them to know that we get it- and we are working very hard on their behalf.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I like to spend time with my husband and family, watch OSU football and the Cincinnati Reds, to read and to run and to cook. And I like to watch the latest Real Housewives of Somewhere or Other and tons of cooking shows (Ten Dollar Dinners and Barefoot Contessa are special favorites!).

What’s your favorite quote? Why does this quote “speak” to you?
I had to forego some of my favorite Harry Potter quotes for this, but the winner is… “… and I thought perfection is not what you imagine. Happiness is nothing but God’s presence in the silence of the nerves.” – The Nightingales of Troy
It’s a book about a family of strong Irish Catholic women, like my own family, who are just bravely living and leading their families. The quote just really means a lot that in the midst of life not always being what you planned, things have a way of working out and happiness has a way of quietly peaking its head out at us.

To meet other Komen Columbus staff members, click here. Learn more about Komen Columbus by visiting our website, Facebook and Twitter Pages.