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Statement of Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on the passing of Nelson Mandela

The moral space Nelson Mandela occupied during his extraordinary lifetime will not be filled soon, but his place in history is secure and so is his place in the hearts of all people of morality and integrity.

Nelson Mandela - W.K. Kellogg FoundationHis life was inspiring. He overcame obstacles that few people can imagine to lead his country on the path to national reconciliation, and at the same time he stirred people around the world to advance the idea of a more humane and inclusive society.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation began its work in support of building black African leadership in South Africa and other African nations in 1986. In 1997, the foundation launched its post-apartheid program, which targeted social and economic development in rural areas.

Since that time, the foundation met with him twice and partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Children’s Fund, the Children’s Hospital and the Metropolitan University in projects that embrace our shared value of improving the lives of children, families and communities through leadership and community development. 

The lessons Madiba taught all of us about strength, courage and perseverance are many.  But one belief he put forth is at the core of our philanthropy: that once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them. 

Mandela once said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

The example of human dignity and human achievement he gave us is so remarkable it will serve as a beacon of inspiration and hope for generations to come.   

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