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Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Linh Nguyen named to key senior leadership positions

Joanne Krell

Dr Barbara Ferrer and Linh NguyenBATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) today announced the selection of two key senior leadership executives. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, the acclaimed executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, has been named chief strategy officer, effective Oct. 6, 2014. Linh Nguyen, currently WKKF’s vice president for Learning & Impact and interim vice president for program strategy leading WKKF’s place-based work, was named chief operating officer, effective immediately. Both will report to the President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron.

Ferrer and Nguyen join a strong leadership team that has been aligned over the past nine months to produce results that make a difference in the lives of families and their children, better serve WKKF grantees and adhere to the values of founder Will Keith Kellogg.
“We are moving towards a system of accountability that will ensure that our program strategies and internal systems execute at a high level and best serve vulnerable children, as the nation and the world face many new challenges,” said CEO Tabron.
“Barbara is a national leader in addressing the systemic and structural inequities and behavior patterns that contribute to health disparities, and negatively affect life outcomes for children,” continued Tabron. “Linh is a highly respected organizational leader dedicated to driving efficient and effective grantmaking and operations that will enable us to be an effective philanthropic partner in the field and with our grantee partners. I look forward to Barbara and Linh making significant contributions as the foundation seeks to affect positive change so that all children can thrive.”

As chief strategy officer, Ferrer will assume leadership of the foundation’s work to develop, define and hone strategies in places and for each program area, and she will lead the vice presidents directly overseeing this work. The key program areas include – Education & Learning; Food, Health & Well-Being; and Family Economic Security, as well as the Racial Equity; Community Engagement; and Leadership approaches. With the foundation’s focus on priority places in the United States – Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans – as well as internationally in Mexico and Haiti, Ferrer will play a crucial role in balancing the foundation’s point of view with regard to education, health and economic security while holding up WKKF’s core values of helping people help themselves and supporting communities as they effect change in their own lives. 

“I could not be more pleased that Barbara is joining the Kellogg Foundation team,” said Tabron. “She brings an exceptionally rich body of knowledge around both public health issues and education, and she understands deeply the impacts of disparity on vulnerable children and families. She shares our belief that addressing the whole child is essential. I know the foundation – and most importantly, the populations we seek to serve – will benefit enormously from Barbara’s knowledge, talents and approaches. We look forward to her leadership.”

Ferrer said the WKKF mission to create conditions that help vulnerable children thrive is consistent with her lifelong commitment to bringing communities together in addressing the challenges faced by children. “I am thrilled to work with WKKF’s talented team at the national and international level, and focus on improving life outcomes for young children and their families,” she said. “I’ve witnessed the enormous impact and reach of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and I’m excited to help the foundation move forward in making the world a better place for vulnerable children.”

Under Ferrer, Boston’s Health Commission managed a $162 million budget and 1,100 employees while operating a broad range of public health programs, such as the Boston Emergency Medical Services, school-based health centers, several substance abuse treatment facilities, and the largest homeless services program in New England. She was noted for building innovative partnerships across city agencies to leverage changes in housing, economic development, transportation, education and environmental policy to positively affect the health in vulnerable communities. She also used board of health authority to restrict sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes, ban artificial trans fats, regulate transfer stations and junkyards, and reduce harmful workplace exposures.
Prior to joining the Health Commission as the deputy director in 1998, she spent five years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, first as director of health promotion and chronic disease prevention and later as director of the Division of Maternal and Child Health. Ferrer received a master’s degree in public health from Boston University, a doctorate from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare, and a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Linh Nguyen will lead all the operational aspects of the foundation and oversee the vice presidents that direct four of the foundation’s core internal areas – Information Systems and Technology, Integrated Services, Quality & Organizational Effectiveness and Talent. He joined the foundation in June 2013 as vice president for Learning & Impact, and several months ago became the interim vice president for program strategy for WKKF’s place-based work following the departure of a colleague. His strong cross-functional knowledge and experience make him an ideal candidate for this position.

Nguyen, who was one of the nation’s leading organizational and human capital consultants, has been lauded by WKKF colleagues for his work in leading the foundation’s efforts to better define its programmatic focus from within its strategic framework, reconstitute an evaluation function that prioritizes capturing and sharing knowledge from its program initiatives, generating ideas and strategies for functions that relate to the organization’s core values, and quickly and completely assessing opportunities for the foundation to improve its effectiveness.
“I’m committed to helping build better organizations, partnering with others to bring their best work and contributing to an environment that values both how and what we do,” Nguyen said.  “Working with the Kellogg Foundation provides so many opportunities to make a real difference to children, families and communities, and I am deeply honored by the opportunity to work with so many very smart, knowledgeable, committed and caring people. I am extremely optimistic about the work in front of us.”

Prior to joining the foundation a year ago, Nguyen was the managing director for organizational and human capital consulting at Innovate, Inc., in Arlington, Virginia. He launched and operated a new consulting division specializing in organizational development, knowledge management, innovation and learning for public sector clients. Nguyen has more than 23 years of consulting experience and has designed and implemented hundreds of successful evaluation, learning and organizational development projects. In recognition of his expertise, he was selected in 2008 to serve on the Obama Presidential Transition Team as transition co-lead for the Office of Personnel Management.

Moreover, Nguyen was a senior executive in management consulting for Accenture plc. During his time at Accenture, he also served as managing director for the U.S. public-sector talent and organizational performance group. He provided thought leadership and directed major engagements for government, higher education and nonprofit clients, including large foundations, including WKKF.

“Linh has brought exceptional talent and perspective to the Kellogg Foundation,” said Tabron. “He is a gifted servant leader with keen strategic insights, excellent judgment and a focus on building a learning culture that will help the foundation execute its work in a high quality manner. I am confident that Linh will enable our efforts to serve our core customers – grantees and grantseekers – so we can assist communities in creating the conditions that benefit vulnerable children.”

Nguyen holds a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, the Association for Talent Development and the International Coach Federation.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. 

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