W.K. Kellogg Foundation announces new executive staff, leadership promotions and Baldrige honors

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Feb. 05, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) today announced Kahlil C. Williams as the foundation’s general counsel and corporate secretary. Mr. Williams will be responsible for all legal affairs of the foundation, including providing legal counsel to the board of trustees, president and CEO, the executive team and foundation staff. He will serve as corporate secretary for the foundation board of trustees and oversee the internal audit function of the foundation.

Mr. Williams most recently was a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP in Philadelphia where he led the firm’s Black Lawyers Group, the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Working Group and co-led the firm’s Racial Justice & Equality Initiative. He brings a wide range of legal experience to the foundation including representing companies and individual corporate litigation & government inquiries as well as advising companies on emerging legal and reputational risks concerning their ESG programs. He has also represented individuals and governmental entities on numerous voting rights matters, drawing on his work prior to law school for the Brennan Center for Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Prior to Ballard Spahr LLP, Williams was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York. He holds a juris doctorate from Columbia Law School, a master’s in political science from The University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s in political science from The Pennsylvania State University.

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Williams will be a member of the executive leadership team, reporting to WKKF president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron.  

“Kahlil brings a wealth of global and corporate litigation and legal experience to the foundation. We welcome his expertise in all aspects of the foundation’s commitment to equity and look forward to adding his leadership voice in this urgent time for the children and families we serve,” Tabron said.

Three executive leaders earn promotions


The foundation also announced the promotion of three WKKF executive colleagues to newly designed leadership roles.

Dr. Carla Thompson Payton has been promoted to chief strategist and impact officer for the foundation and will be responsible for creative and strategic program leadership, driving impact and achieving programmatic goals, both domestically and internationally.

Thompson Payton joined the foundation in 2012 as a vice president for program strategy, overseeing the national strategic grantmaking for early childhood education, economic equity and health equity. Most recently, she held responsibility for strategic grantmaking strategies from design through implementation, evaluation and dissemination, including policy advocacy and social impact investments.

Previously, Thompson Payton 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 in Washington, D.C. There, she was responsible for developing national early childhood education policy, managing the $5 billion annual budget of the Child Care Development Fund and providing oversight to 10 regional offices serving states, tribes and territories. Previously, she was assistant superintendent for early childhood education for the District of Columbia, where she initiated the first publicly funded pre-kindergarten program.

Dr. Alandra L. Washington has been promoted to chief transformation and organizational effectiveness officer. Washington’s focus will be the oversight and strengthening of the integration and agility of the operations of the foundation, and the convergence of organizational skillsets to increase quality, analytical rigor, and operational excellence. Additionally, she holds responsibility for the programmatic and operational alignment of the foundation’s internal and external commitments to racial equity.

Washington joined the foundation in 2002 as program director responsible for the design and execution of national initiatives that fostered the adoption of racial equity grantmaking frameworks, practices and approaches, democratizing philanthropy and strengthening identity-based philanthropy. She also served as director for programs for education and learning, family economic security and New Mexico teams, and most recently as vice president for transformation and organizational effectiveness. Dr. Washington has more than 25 years of experience leading non-profit and philanthropic organizations. Prior to joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, she served as CEO of the Greater East. St. Louis Community Fund.

Michael Murphy has been promoted to chief of staff, in addition to his continued leadership of the communications team at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In partnership with Tabron and the executive leadership team, Murphy will prioritize external relations, key sector engagements, enterprise-wide efforts such as the National Day of Racial Healing, and new initiatives and projects as they are designed and created across the foundation. Murphy joined WKKF in 2021 as vice president of communications.

For more than eight years, Murphy was chief marketing officer at the Cleveland Foundation, where he was responsible for providing strategic communications, public affairs, and thought leadership counsel for the world’s first community foundation.

The foundation also announced title changes for two WKKF leaders to better reflect their existing portfolio of responsibilities: Don Williamson serves as chief financial officer and treasurer, and Dianna Langenburg is chief of talent and human resources officer.

“The new responsibilities for this robust and action-oriented leadership team, along with Williams as our new general counsel and corporate secretary and our full executive committee, represent the collective leadership approach required to sustain and deepen the execution of the foundation’s strategies for the future,” Tabron said.

Performance excellence honors

These announcements follow in part from the learning and insights received from the Michigan Performance Excellence Program (MIPEx) as the foundation recently earned its Pursuit of Excellence designation.

The foundation applied to the Michigan Performance Excellence Program in Feb. 2023, and examiners conducted staff interviews and a site visit as part of the process. MIPEx examiners provided feedback as part of its recognition of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, using the national Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as its framework to help Michigan-based organizations enhance their performance. 

“The feedback we received with this honor is truly a gift,” said Tabron. “It offers both important strengths to celebrate and key enhancement opportunities, helping us identify and address the most important and impactful continuous improvements as we approach nearly a century of working with communities to ensure every child thrives.”

MIPEx provides information, feedback, training, and education to assist Michigan organizations in improving quality, customer satisfaction, and other results.  The MIPEx program is the first step in pursuit of The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which was established by the U.S. Congress in 1987 to raise awareness of quality management and recognize U.S. companies that have implemented successful quality management systems.

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The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur 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, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention 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. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.  

CONTACT: Kathy Reincke, director of communications W.K. Kellogg Foundation 269.969.2079 [email protected] 

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