BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) announces new leadership responsibilities for two key executives, Dr. Gail C. Christopher and Carla D. Thompson, who will play larger, more integrated roles to help the foundation achieve its mission to support children, families and communities in creating and strengthening the conditions in which vulnerable children can succeed.
Christopher, a vice president for program strategy, will become vice president for policy and senior advisor. She joined the foundation in 2007 and leads the foundation’s Racial Equity; Food, Health & Well-Being; Community & Civic Engagement; and WKKF Community Leadership Network fellowship work. Under her leadership, the foundation launched its America Healing initiative (2010), which is helping communities across the United States and in Brazil heal racial strife and address structural racism.
Thompson, who joined WKKF in 2012 as a vice president for program strategy, has been leading and managing the foundation’s Education & Learning and Family Economic Security teams. She will continue that work and with Christopher’s new role will assume leadership, strategic direction and implementation of the foundation’s Food, Health & Well-Being programming work. Christopher will continue to provide leadership for the foundation’s Racial Equity, Community Engagement and Leadership work on an interim basis until a new leader is announced.
“Gail and Carla are key members of the leadership team who will now have even more opportunities to increase the foundation’s effectiveness by working in an integrated and aligned manner to address issues facing vulnerable children, their families and communities,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, the foundation’s president and CEO. “We have a strong belief, based on the very values of our founder W.K. Kellogg, that helping people help themselves is essential. And we know that policy change is most effective when the community has a strong voice in its own outcome. As Gail and Carla take on new responsibilities, I am confident that the foundation’s work with our grantees and policy partners will result in improved life outcomes for all children.”
Christopher is a nationally recognized leader in health policy, with particular expertise and experience in issues related to the social determinants of health and breastfeeding. Prior to joining WKKF, she led the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies. She championed critical programs, such as PLACE MATTERS, which addresses structural inequities in 27 counties and cities, and the Dellums Commission, which identified and addressed public policies that curtailed opportunities for young men of color. Dr. Christopher holds a doctor of naprapathy degree from the Chicago National College of Naprapathy in Illinois.
Citing the foundation’s America Healing initiative, Tabron said, “Gail initiated and led the foundation’s groundbreaking effort around dismantling structural racism and promoting racial healing, which continues to provide WKKF grantees an important voice and place in the national dialogue on race. Our racial equity work is more than an important initiative; it has successfully embedded itself into everything that we do at the foundation. And, in her new role leading an enhanced policy effort, Gail will continue making a difference for children and families on the national, as well as, international stage, as she addresses needed system and policy changes.”
Prior to joining WKKF, Thompson was deputy director of the Office of Child Care at the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She developed national early childhood education policy, managing the $5 billion annual budget of the Child Care Development Fund. She was also assistant superintendent for early childhood education for the District of Columbia, where she initiated the first publicly funded pre-kindergarten program. Thompson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. She is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
At WKKF, Thompson has been influential in raising awareness of the need for more parental and family engagement in schools and on education issues, including leading WKKF’s co-sponsorship of the White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement. She has also worked with colleagues across the country to identify innovative practices and strategies focused on providing high-quality care for infants and toddlers while keeping costs affordable.
“In a short time, Carla has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and leadership,” said Tabron. “She brings a greater focus to our organizational goals of educated kids, healthy kids and economically secure families. Carla has a unique combination of professional and personal experiences that helps her understand the interconnected factors that affect children and families. Her perspective aids us in addressing the critical intervention points where we, as a foundation, can have the greatest impact on their futures. Carla will ensure the continued integration of this work and increase our ability to create and support change in communities across the country for generations to come.”
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.