Barbara Kronman: SHARE’s First Executive Director

Barbara Kronman 40 for 40

When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

In 1979, I had a mastectomy, and in 1981, I had a second mastectomy, which really threw me. At that point, I started looking for support services and I found out about SHARE. I went to a meeting, and it was wonderful -- there were 30 women in attendance. This was 35 years ago (I was 43), and I had never spoken to anyone with breast cancer.

Within two meetings, I was asked to join the Board, and I accepted. I remained involved for several years, and then in 1986, I opened SHARE's first office and was asked to act as Executive Director for one year. SHARE had about $2,000 in the bank.

I threw myself into the job and started doing personal fundraising, and then we moved on to foundational fundraising. I was working 10 hours a day, and the position was unpaid. One day, Sally Berg walked into the office, and I could tell immediately that she had a lot to offer. I asked her to join me, and in 1988, she became SHARE's co-Executive Director.

Sally suggested having a walkathon to raise money. By that time, we had other volunteers who worked in the office, and we placed bets on how much money we could raise. Someone said, "$25,000," and others responded that we'd never raise that much. We ended up raising $125,000.

SHARE's first office was on 44th Street and 5th Avenue. It was one room with a little additional space. We did everything there, from our administrative work to our support groups. SHARE moved into larger quarters after seven or eight years there. We hired Alice Yaker as Executive Director in 1993, and Sally and I continued on the Board until we left the organization in 1994 or 1995.

We loved the work; it was hard, and it was very challenging, but we loved it.

What have you done for SHARE?

We built the organization financially. When we left, there was a cash balance of half a million dollars. The annual walk doubled in income every year (starting at $125K, doubling to $250K, then $500K), and that gave SHARE a cushion. At that time, everyone was a volunteer, and so there were no salary expenses.

How has SHARE helped you?

In the early days, when I first found SHARE, I had never talked to anyone with breast cancer, and SHARE helped me to get a wonderful sense of support from others who had been through the disease. My second mastectomy had really thrown me, and SHARE helped restore me to a sense of myself as a whole person and helped me believe I would make it, and I did.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

My wish is that it continue in the wonderful place it has in the world of helping women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer and that it can go on to do wonderful work. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved.

See all the 40 for 40 series posts here!