Battle Creek, MI

Program Officer - Michigan, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Organization

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a leading philanthropic institution helping communities create the conditions children need to thrive, is seeking nominations and applications for Program Officer for its Michigan Programs. 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. The foundation has made a generational commitment to grantmaking in the region that advances the vision of a future in which every child thrives. WKKF partners closely with community stakeholders and policy makers to co-create a network of organizations working together to advance economic stability, racial equity, and community and civic engagement, while increasing access to quality education, healthy food, and medical care for children and families in need.

Position Overview

Working in partnership across the three team offices for Michigan Programs led by its new Director Faye Nelson and with WKKF national staff, the Program Officer will provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts that nurture opportunities for achieving positive systemic change for better education, health, and economic outcomes for children and their families throughout the state of Michigan. The Michigan team works in offices in Battle Creek, Detroit, and Grand Rapids and is a critical place-based team at the foundation. Particular areas of interest related to WKKF priorities as the Michigan Programs team grows include early childhood and education systems, employment equity, and equitable economic development. The Program Officer will screen and recommend grants for funding, conduct site visits, manage and monitor a portfolio of grant programs aligned with the strategic framework, and collaborate within the Michigan Programs team and across the foundation to develop a more interdisciplinary approach to grantmaking. The Program Officer will maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees and act as a spokesperson for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, effectively communicating the foundation’s goal of partnering with communities to improve the well-being of children and their families.

The ideal candidate will have expertise and leadership experience in the areas of early childhood education, employment equity, or economic development, and will be committed to the values and mission of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Familiarity and experience with the grantmaking process is a plus. She/He/They will have a deep and comprehensive understanding of program execution and development. The Program Officer will have the cultural fluency to curate a portfolio reflective of a community’s needs and to be responsive to the wisdom of local mores and leadership. She/He/They will possess a strong team orientation, a high tolerance for ambiguity, the ability to adapt quickly to change, and success working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is being assisted in this search by Katherine Jacobs and Courtney Thomas of the national search firm NPAG.


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.


As the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s home state, Michigan has always held a special place in its mission. The foundation has a focused team whose work in the region is committed to the health, happiness, and well-being of all children in the community. Critical to that effort is having the community fully engaged in its own outcome. The foundation believes that its work must focus on community and civic engagement as well as racial and economic equity in order to create real, systemic and lasting change for Michigan’s children and their families.

Grantee Highlights:

Michigan League for Public Policy

The Michigan League for Public Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing economic security. With WKKF support, it established the Prosperity Coalition – a bipartisan, cross-sector, statewide partnership – to improve the lives of Michigan’s vulnerable families and children through policy change.

Center for Michigan

The Center for Michigan is a “think-and-do” tank focused on healing an unhealthy, hyper-partisan political culture to reinvigorate the public policy process. WKKF funding helps further the Center’s overall five-year business plan to improve Michigan’s quality of life by fostering a more engaged and informed public.

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion

The mission of the Michigan Roundtable is to build sustainable, inclusive communities. WKKF supports the Roundtable’s Michigan Racial Equity Network, which promotes collaboration across healthcare, business, higher education, K-12 education, foundations, faith-based groups, and the arts and humanities, linking and coordinating efforts at the local and state levels to pursue collective action on behalf of racial equity.

WKKF works with industry partners and technical education programs to ensure there are clear pathways to employment for diverse populations. The foundation also supports families in developing a base of financial security that will enable them to support and engage in the education of their children and to save for the future. Additionally, WKKF is committed to helping develop diverse local leaders with influence and who can help leverage other local and national philanthropic dollars.

Opportunities and Challenges Facing the PROGRAM OFFICER

The new Program Officer will join an extraordinary team of individuals who are passionate about eradicating social disparities and improving well-being for all children. S/he will also be part of a closely connected cross-disciplinary team executing the place-based work that spans across Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Orleans, Haiti, and Mexico. The place-based teams strive to improve conditions across these diverse places by sharing best practices and aligning resources, approaches, and assessment of grantmaking to drive solutions for systemic social change.

The new Program Officer for Michigan Programs can expect to engage in the following challenges and opportunities:

·       Provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts that is aligned and integrated with the unified mission and vision of the foundation. The new Program Officer will develop a strong network of key stakeholders, policymakers, community leaders, and grantees that support the foundation’s mission and inform and advance its work in Michigan. She/He/They will expand and deepen the foundation’s work in early childhood education, economic development, and employment equity, shaping the work and supporting communities to enhance the well-being of children and families in the state.

·       Collaborate with and support prospective and existing grantees in developing funding strategies, requests, and plans with a focus on change making relevant to policy and advocacy. The Program Officer will provide high-level technical assistance to grantees including conducting site visits and consulting on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building, and coaching. She/He/They will identify and recommend grantmaking opportunities that leverage WKKF investments for maximum impact in creating systemic change, and she/he/they will maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, ensuring mutual understanding of WKKF program direction, goals, and expectations.

·       Create learning communities and collaborative networks amongst 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 early childhood education, economic development, or employment equity. The Program Officer will work closely with WKKF’s Learning and Impact team to incorporate assessment components into program efforts to measure progress and impact. She/He/They will document and circulate lessons learned from grant investments, networking meetings, and other foundation-related activities. She/He/They will work collaboratively to identify and prioritize the highest value knowledge and learning from the foundation’s grant investments and networking meetings.

·       Build public and policy goodwill and awareness of issues affecting vulnerable children and families. The Program Officer will contribute ideas on 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. She/He/They will serve as a credible, articulate representative and spokesperson for the foundation and will communicate the program’s strategic direction and funding interests to various audiences, internal and external to the foundation.


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:

·       Eight to ten years of significant relevant work experience in early childhood education, economic development, or employment equity; familiarity and experience with the grantmaking process is a plus; Master’s degree in a field relevant to the portfolio is preferred;

·       Demonstrated flexible, multidisciplinary thinking required to address the social determinants of quality early childhood education and/ or economic security and the drive to shape and inform the work based on the immediate issues and opportunities found in communities; understanding of the broad social and economic forces that affect communities and families and shape programming efforts; holistic and multi-dimensional approach to leadership development, organizational change, and community transformation;

·       Sophisticated understanding of educational and economic disparities in Michigan and the related policy landscapes; ability to navigate successfully the different legal, social, and political forces at play through the federal, state, and local governance systems in Michigan; and/or knowledge of financial systems, capital markets, and economic mobility policy and practices that leverage diverse models and effective strategies for economic security particularly among underserved communities;

·       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;

·       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;

·       Demonstrated success in forging and stewarding partnerships with the private sector, government agencies, foundations, policymakers and stakeholders in economic development, education, and community organizations in support of children and families;

·       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;

  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement programs that have impact; ability to think globally while working locally, 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;
  • 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

·       Ability to travel approximately 50 percent time is required; regular attendance on-site at the Battle Creek headquarters to facilitate interaction and synthesis of the grantmaking programs is required.

How To Apply

The search is being led by Katherine Jacobs and Courtney Thomas 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: 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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