Women At The Helm

President and CEO, Breast Cancer Fund

Under Jeanne Rizzo’s direction, the Breast Cancer Fund has become a national leader in raising awareness about the science linking breast cancer and environmental exposures through its public education and advocacy campaigns. “To me, it’s a core, basic social justice issue: protecting our health from the assault by toxic chemicals in the environment,” she says. As president and CEO of the BCF, Rizzo, an R.N., uses both her nursing and health education roots, as well as her business experience, to attack the social justice issues she holds dear, particularly women’s health and the environment. With Rizzo leading strategic initiatives, the BCF is scoring legislative victories toward making consumer products safer by regulating their chemical content. The group obtained a commitment from Campbell’s to remove the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, from its can linings; the BCF and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also got a pledge from Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its cosmetic products to remove harmful chemicals. Rizzo’s dedication to the cause earned her the California Public Health Association-North’s Helen Rodriguez-Trias “Lighting the Way” Award and the EPA Region 9’s Green Chemistry Environmental Leader Award. Rizzo believes that individual stories from people inspire her most: “I’m amazed by how you can make a difference in your own life and the lives of others by modeling change, affecting change. Opportunities present themselves to all of us—our name is on some moment, and we can either choose to step up and do something or we walk away,” she says. “Things get better when we step up.”
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