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W.K. Kellogg Foundation announces new vice president and two new directors

Dana Linnane

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) announces the selection of a new vice president for communications and the promotion of two staff to director positions.

Mary B. Cohen was named the new vice president for communications. In addition, Arelis Diaz, former program officer for the office of the president, and Cynthia Muller, former program and portfolio officer for mission driven investments, have both been promoted to the role of director. Diaz will serve as director of the office of the president and Muller as the director of mission investments.

Cohen will serve as senior communications advisor, providing strategic counsel to the president and CEO, executive team and staff. Cohen is responsible for directing all aspects, both domestically and internationally, of internal and external communications efforts in service to the foundation’s mission, vision, values and strategic plan.

Mary has been a key partner with the Kellogg Foundation for many years. She comes in with deep institutional knowledge, expertise and innovative communication strategies to further our mission,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO. “We are also ecstatic to have Arelis and Cynthia join our director cohort. They both will help us further align our organization to move the needle on behalf of children.”  

Prior to joining the foundation, Cohen was the president of Mary B. Cohen Communications, Inc., based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she supported philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate clients in writing, editing, program management, group facilitation, instructional sessions, media support and strategic planning. Cohen has worked as a key consultant with the Kellogg Foundation for nearly 25 years. In that role, she has authored books, reports, provided technical assistance and worked on various projects and initiatives, in particular the development and dissemination of materials for WKKF’s 75th-anniversary, a number of major initiatives and the foundation’s current strategic plan.

Cohen has served as a term-appointment communications professor at Western Michigan University; a program and communications director for the March of Dimes; and communications specialist/project manager for the former Upjohn Healthcare Services.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in speech and communications from the honors program of the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in communications from Western Michigan University.

In Diaz’ new director role, she will oversee operations within the office of the president. Acting as a key advisor to the president and CEO, executing the foundation’s message successfully in coordination with internal teams and external partners and managing grants for the office of the president.

In her previous role, she led WKKF’s corporate responsibility efforts and special initiatives of the president and CEO. Diaz joined the foundation in December 2010 as a program officer working with the Education & Learning and Family Economic Security teams. She managed and monitored a portfolio of PK-12 educational grants, providing technical assistance to grantees on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building and coaching.

Prior to joining the foundation, Diaz had a 15-year career with the Godwin Heights Public Schools in Wyoming, Michigan, serving most recently as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and human resources director. Diaz transformed academic achievement in the district and propelled it into educational excellence. The Godwin Heights district has received state and national recognition for successfully closing the achievement gap for children of poverty.

She is the recipient of several honors, including the 2009 Dispelling the Myth Award from the Education Trust in Washington, D.C.; the 2007 MASB Education Excellence Award for the Parents ARE Teachers early childhood literacy program for ELL parents; and the Herman W. Coleman Human Relations Award.

She holds a master’s degree in K-12 educational administration from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a bilingual endorsement from Calvin College. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in K-12 educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

In Muller’s new director role, her primary responsibility will be to drive the strategy and performance of the foundation’s $100 million mission investments. She will also oversee the foundation’s $30 million program-related investment portfolio. In her previous role, she was responsible for developing and managing strategic market rate impact investment activities; sourcing and deploying market rate investments to increase social change impact; analyzing solutions and trends; and developing relationships in the field.

Prior to joining the foundation, Muller developed and managed Arabella Advisors impact investing practice where she helped foundations and individuals understand the field of impact investing; developing strategies and structuring investments to accomplish their social and environmental goals. During her tenure, she oversaw deal sourcing and structuring of investments in health, education, microfinance, housing and green technology—both domestically and internationally.

Muller previously led strategic initiatives at Capital Impact Partners, where she developed and managed impact investments and worked on nationally focused investment funds and initiatives targeting health, food, education, energy efficiency and economic development. Muller currently serves on the boards of Groundswell and Enterprise Community Loan Fund.

She holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University.


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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