Battle Creek, MI

Program Officer - Food, Health & Well-being (Maternal and Child Health and Health Equity), W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Organization


In 1930, breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg donated $66 million in Kellogg Company stock and other investments “to help people help themselves,” launching the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Foundation began its work in Michigan, but by the 1940s had expanded its work internationally and was breaking ground in areas such as rural children’s health, “mainstreaming” children with disabilities, and the development of the healthcare profession. By its 50th anniversary, the Foundation was among the world’s largest private philanthropic organizations. Its mission reflects the Foundation’s core priorities of thriving children, working families, and equitable communities, and the dynamic connection between the three.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families, and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.”

To advance this mission, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation created a framework supported by an innovative matrixed organizational design to prioritize investment decisions and maximize effectiveness toward achieving the desired ends and improvements for children and their families. This new framework supports disciplined choices toward targeted outcomes and stronger alignment across programs. It is a focused and networked approach to strategic programming that relies on close cross-foundation collaboration and agile teams to leverage human capital and knowledge resources to positively impact vulnerable children, families, and communities. Across bodies of work, the foundation implements an array of change-making tools – grantmaking, impact investing, contracting, networking and convenings – to ensure progress. A commitment to racial equity, community engagement and leadership development are woven into each endeavor as essential to the creation of a social context in which all children can thrive, particularly the most vulnerable.

Position Overview


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a leading national philanthropic force helping communities create the conditions children need to thrive, is seeking nominations and applications for a Program Officer with a focus on Food, Health & Well-Being (FHWB) to strengthen the foundation’s work in Health Equity and Maternal Child Health. In recent years, the foundation has sharpened its focus on improving conditions for vulnerable children, concentrating on three key factors of success and their intersections: education and learning; food, health and well-being; and family economic security. Reporting to the Director of Food, Health & Well-Being, the Program Officers will provide leadership and oversight for execution of programs and policy that strive for positive systemic change within communities to ensure educated, healthy kids and secure families nationally, focusing on the integration of these areas with efforts to transform public health systems to more effectively address racial equity, community engagement, and social determinants of health.

The FHWB team partners closely with community stakeholders and policy makers to co-create a network of organizations working together to support community-based approaches in key areas of maternal and child health, oral health, breastfeeding, and continued access to good food and active living throughout a child’s early development. Programming efforts focus on building food systems infrastructure and providing places for physical activity, supporting equitable maternal and child health services and improving birth outcomes, and advancing health equity to help vulnerable children and families achieve optimal health. The incoming Program Officers will play a key role in building upon and supporting this work, particularly in ways in which those areas intersect with public health systems.

Ideal candidates will have a master’s or terminal degree and substantial work experience in maternal child health and/or health equity at the intersection of public health systems paired with a solid understanding of community engagement in those systems. The new Program Officers will screen and recommend grants for funding; build relationships and coalitions nationally; conduct site visits; and build, manage, and monitor a portfolio of grant programs and a public policy agenda aligned with the foundation’s strategic framework. The Program Officers will build and maintain strong, authentic relationships and act as spokespeople, effectively communicating the foundation’s goal of working with communities to improve the lives of their children. They will have familiarity with public health networks as well as experience developing robust partnerships across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. A deep and comprehensive understanding of program design and development along with local, regional, and national networks of contacts is desired. Successful program officers at the Foundation are holistic, entrepreneurial, and interdisciplinary thinkers with a current understanding of broad social and economic forces affecting communities and families, demonstrated ability to develop and implement programs, and the skill to facilitate authentic, productive dialogue within diverse communities and settings. S/he/they will possess a strong team orientation, the ability to adapt quickly to change, a natural learning orientation, and have demonstrated success working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds.

The search is being conducted with assistance from Carolyn Ho and Melinda Hull of NPAG. Please see application instructions at the end of this document.

Food, Health & Well-Being

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recognizes the vital role food plays in the overall health of an individual, family and community and acknowledges that many children, especially those in vulnerable communities, face disproportionately high barriers to acquiring a healthy start, good nutrition, physical activity and accessible health care in order to thrive in school, work and life. The foundation works to improve the health of mothers and families; to increase breastfeeding rates; to provide innovative, community-based oral health care and to transform food systems so children and families have healthier foods in child care settings, in schools and in their communities.

WKKF believes that its work must focus on community and civic engagement as well as racial equity in order to create real, systemic and lasting change for all children. By addressing the health and well-being of children on a number of interrelated fronts, the foundation seeks to create a set of conditions within communities that support and encourage optimal child development at home, at school, and at play.

Health Equity

The foundation champions the notion that all children deserve the opportunity to thrive. In the spirit of this philosophy, the foundation places particular value on creating environments that advance children’s health given troubling racial disparities impacting vulnerable families in this country. Despite many advances in public health and health care; racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in health outcomes are endemic to communities and a major transformation is needed in how public health entities conduct their business, translate data, work across sectors, engage with community, and explore a broader array of policy options.

There is an opportunity for public health leadership at all levels to guide strategy and development for building the capacity of public health systems to execute approaches that promote health, address root causes, and eliminate inequities in health outcomes for children, families and communities.
In recognizing the critical role that public health systems play in these efforts, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is increasing its focus on building capacity of public health entities to work across sectors; to engage community as key decision makers to create conditions for health, safety and equity; and to leverage policy vehicles to strengthen public health infrastructure, systems, and approaches. In addition to a comprehensive national analysis of current status, gaps, and trends of public health systems and capacity building activities and the results of these efforts to date, the foundation will support extensive investigations and programming to support this work in WKKF’s priority places. A key strategy to this work will be the engagement of national thought leaders, networks of community partnerships, and selected leaders across sectors engaged in promising efforts. Early energies will involve seeding innovations at international, local, state, and tribal levels to support infrastructure enhancement, capacity building efforts, elevating leadership, creating learning labs to co-create solutions, and disseminating findings.

Today, with a greater understanding of the role of social determinants of health, the impact of structural racism, the importance of community engagement in advancing health outcomes, and the continued evolution of the Affordable Health Care Act and expanded Medicaid coverage, there is an increasing role for the foundation to ensure alignment and strength of its efforts in the context of evolving public health systems.

Maternal and Child Health

Americans have one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed countries, and African American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as are white babies. As part of its larger Food, Health and Well-Being program, the foundation addresses these inequities through the maternal and child health program which supports strategies that promote breastfeeding, healthy food, physical activity and access to quality health care. The maternal and child health program aims to eliminate racial disparities in infant mortality rates, reduce low birthweight and preterm births, and address the social determinants that impact maternal and child health.

The foundation’s broad strategy is designed to address the needs of vulnerable children along a developmental continuum from the prenatal months to early adulthood.

The foundation’s grantmaking in maternal and child health supports national and community-based organizations in providing equitable maternal and child health services, conducting innovative research, and developing best practices with a particular focus on the most vulnerable mothers and children.

Its approach includes a holistic perspective on health that promotes high-quality prenatal care, personal empowerment for mothers, and community support to address the social determinants of health. The program prioritizes cross-sector collaboration to engender the systemic changes necessary to reduce inequities in infant mortality rates and create healthy environments for all children.

For more information, please see the foundation’s Maternal and Child Health webpage.


The new Program Officers will join an extraordinary team of individuals on the Food, Health and Well-Being team who are passionate about eradicating social disparities and improving health and well-being for all children. While national in scope, all program officers at the foundation are also closely connected to place-based work that spans across Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Orleans, Haiti, and Mexico. The Program Officers will lead on-the-ground execution of program and coalition building efforts and engage the following challenges and opportunities:

Support the development and lead the execution of a public health program strategy in collaboration with the Director and other program officers for the Food, Health and Well-Being portfolio. Partner with the Director to develop a vision and strategy and provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts. Communicate strategic direction and funding interests to various audiences internal and external to the foundation, and demonstrate flexible, multidisciplinary thinking and an ability to be driven by immediate issues and opportunities found in communities and across issue areas, rather than limiting him or herself to a departmental organization of the foundation’s programs.

Collaborate with and support prospective and existing grantees in developing funding strategies, requests, and plans with a focus on change making relevant to public health policy and advocacy. Provide high-level technical assistance to grantees including conducting site visits and consulting on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building, and coaching. Maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, ensuring understanding of WKKF program direction, goals, and expectations.

Develop and steward partnerships in support of creating new opportunities for healthy children and families. Understand and effectively communicate the foundation’s mission, vision, core values and strategic direction to internal and external groups, including key stakeholders and intermediaries. Cultivate, forge and successfully maintain strategic relationships to leverage participation of other foundations, businesses, governmental agencies, and other key decision makers in alignment with WKKF core values and program interests. Working with key internal and external partners, identify and recommend grantmaking opportunities that leverage WKKF investments for maximum impact in creating healthy environments for vulnerable families.

Create learning communities and collaborative networks among grantees and partners, develop and manage learning and evaluation components for grants, and cultivate a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about trends, practices, and issues relevant to public and community-based health systems and efforts. Work closely with WKKF’s Learning and Impact team to incorporate assessment components into program efforts to measure progress and impact. Document and circulate lessons learned from grant investments, networking meetings, and other foundation-related activities.

Work collaboratively to identify and prioritize the highest value knowledge and learning from the foundation’s grant investments and networking meetings.
Build goodwill and awareness of health issues affecting vulnerable children and families. Contribute ideas for how the foundation’s highest value knowledge and learning could be packaged and disseminated to benefit nonprofit executives, business leaders, government officials, community leaders, parents, and other external stakeholders of the foundation. Serve as a credible, articulate representative and spokesperson for the foundation.

Communicate the program’s strategic direction and funding interests to various audiences, internal and external to the foundation.


The ideal candidate will be first and foremost committed to the foundation’s mission and will have a current understanding of broad social-economic and systemic forces affecting the health and well-being of children, their families and their communities. S/he/they will have a demonstrated understanding of the necessity of an active pursuit of racial equity through healing efforts and the eradication of structural racism and an established understanding that creating lasting, systemic change in our society requires the engagement of all its members. S/he/they will possess relevant subject matter expertise and work experience in health equity and/or maternal and child health.

While no one person will embody all of the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes and experiences:

• Master’s or terminal degree in public health or a relevant field is preferred. Preference for significant relevant work experience (8+ years) working within or partnered with public health systems and with strong national networks and contacts. A broad, generalist background with deep and comprehensive understanding of public health systems and financing, program design and development, budgeting and contracts, and community engagement.
• Strong familiarity with health policy landscape and evidence of effective work and technical skills in understanding the role that philanthropy can play in policy developments to sustain program success.
• Current knowledge about trends, movements, and policy development to stimulate appropriate programming directions and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Understanding of broad social and economic forces that affect the health of communities and families and shape programming efforts.
• An entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to translate concept into action. An innovation orientation and demonstrated courage to take calculated risks and respond flexibly. A high tolerance for complexity and uncertainty and the ability to adapt quickly to change.
• Capacity to develop and implement impactful programs and effectively communicate conceptual program frameworks to grant-seekers and trustees; deep and comprehensive understanding of program design and development, systems, networking, and community change;
• The knowledge and sensitivity to effectively work with and support vulnerable communities including appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of social, racial, and ethnic realities;
• Expertise in understanding philanthropy’s role in policy development to sustain program success and the current trends, movements, and best practices in developing policy to advance and magnify philanthropic investment and capitalize on emerging opportunities; representing WKKF to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way and with a selfless manner focusing on values and the greater good;
• Demonstrated success in forging and stewarding partnerships with the private sector, government agencies, foundations, policymakers and stakeholders in health, racial justice and equity, economic development, education, and community organizations in support of children and families;
• Successful experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds; willingness to set aside a personal agenda in favor of organizational and/or community goals and objectives;
• Strong relationship building and communication skills; the ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive issues including funding priorities, WKKF expectations, and community concerns; highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening skills, and the ability to use interpersonal and political skills in collaborative, diplomatic ways;
• Excellent writing, editing, analytical, and oral communication skills including the ability to collect, review, synthesize, and present information and findings;
• Ability to multitask and meet deadlines within designated timeframes, as well as demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities; strong organizational skills and exceptional attention to detail with the ability to work both independently, take initiative, and contribute ideas for enhancing performance;
• An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, and patience necessary to work within a transformative environment; and
• The ability and willingness to travel approximately 50-70% of the time.

How To Apply

More information about the W.K. Kellogg Foundation may be found at

The search is being led by Carolyn Ho and Melinda Hull of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and where you learned of the position should be sent to: In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply

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