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In Tribute – Honoring the life and legacy of friend and colleague Dr. Norman A. Brown

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) honors the life and legacy of Dr. Norman A. Brown, a former president and chief operating officer, who passed away Sept. 25, 2012. 

Dr. Brown’s energy, commitment and dedication to expanding volunteerism and philanthropy during his life and his time at the foundation has made a resounding impact on nonprofits in Michigan, the United States and internationally.

“Norm made the lives of countless people better and he will be long-remembered by this organization and the Battle Creek community with fondness and gratitude,” said current WKKF President and CEO Sterling Speirn.

During Brown’s tenure, the Kellogg Foundation experienced rapid growth, launching many programs to find community-based solutions to many of the complex problems facing the nation and world. The foundation assumed a leadership role in volunteerism, private philanthropy and in the nonprofit sector and expanded its influence internationally, especially in southern Africa.

Dr. Brown also courageously championed efforts to diversify the Kellogg Foundation staff, envisioning an organization that reflected the communities it served. His leadership in this work was ahead of many others in philanthropy, much before diversity and inclusion work was considered the “right thing to do.”

Brown joined the foundation in 1984 as a program director in agriculture and rural development, serving in the United States and Latin America. He rose rapidly through the ranks. In 1986, he became executive vice president; in 1988, he was appointed president; and in 1992 he was promoted to president and chief operating officer, retiring in 1994.

Upon Norm’s retirement, then Chairman and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation Dr. Russell Mawby said: “I think we’ve been fortunate as a foundation in the world of philanthropy and in this community (Battle Creek) because of Norm Brown. This community is different because of Norm Brown.”

Norm was a recognized civic leader, locally involved in the Battle Creek United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program, Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts of America and the Calhoun County Red Cross. Nationally, he was a trustee for the Points of Light Foundation, Independent Sector and Council on Foundations. Internationally, he served as president of the board of EARTH College, a regional university located in Costa Rica that is dedicated to improving agriculture and the environment.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the 4-H Foundation or EARTH University.

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