BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Jan. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) today announced the selection of two key senior leadership executives. Aranthan (AJ) Jones II has been named chief policy and communications officer, effective Feb. 1, 2016. This is a newly created executive position that will set the leadership direction for all of the foundation's policy, communication and advocacy investments worldwide.
Gail C. Christopher, D.N., currently WKKF's senior advisor and vice president for policy, will be providing leadership for an unprecedented effort to be announced next week on behalf of the foundation.
Both will report to President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron, and reflect a change in the leadership structure at WKKF. Jones and Christopher will serve on the foundation's executive leadership team, which provides overall planning, execution and direction for the foundation.
"These two positions are critical for the foundation as we seek to make paramount advances through our worldwide investments in racial equity, education, health and well-being, economic security, civic engagement, leadership development and public policy," said Tabron. "AJ is widely recognized as a public policy leader, strategist, communicator and a trailblazer in forming public private partnerships. Gail is a nationally recognized author and leader for health and well-being, as well as for racial healing and racial equity and very eloquently communicates the interconnectedness of narrative and social science research with needed healing and structural change. I look forward to AJ and Gail making significant contributions and holding up WKKF's core values of helping people help themselves and supporting communities as they effect change in their own lives."
As chief policy and communications officer, Jones will lead the execution of policy, communications and advocacy strategies worldwide. Jones will build and manage the foundation's worldwide communications, policy and advocacy staff. Additionally, he will establish regional communication and policy network hubs to further advance the foundation's and its grantees' strategic priorities.
As a direct report to the president and CEO, he will serve as a key spokesperson on behalf of the Kellogg Foundation and will work in coordination with the chief strategy officer and the leadership team on objectives spanning the entire scope of the foundation's portfolio/grantee investments and operations. Jones also will be responsible for establishing and managing public-private partnerships and will serve as the primary policy interface with multilateral institutions, global and domestic investment agencies, public/private philanthropies and governments.
"I am thrilled AJ is joining the Kellogg Foundation and will be a member of our leadership team," said Tabron. "He has a long history with the foundation and has exceptional public policy proficiency, business acumen, executive leadership and a global network that will position our investments and our grantees for maximum impact and visibility."
"Since my involvement with WKKF, I've witnessed a foundation that has been at the philanthropic forefront with investments that sought to change the course of human history. The Kellogg Foundation's legacy is filled with investments that have catalyzed capital investment and policy solutions, which have stood the test of time. From turning failed banks into community credit unions, to mission-driven investments in start-up companies, to socially directed investments in private equity firms, to establishing impact investing programs at Oxford University, to partnering with communities on reducing inequities in our health, education, housing, civic and labor systems, the foundation's multibillion dollar investments are unparalleled in scope and scale," says Jones. "I am honored to be an executive officer in this preeminent organization and will seek to advance efforts which will better inform philanthropic and public policy decision-making and community-based problem solving."
Jones comes to the Kellogg Foundation having recently served as the first head of worldwide government affairs for Gilead Sciences a leading biotech company. In this capacity, he led a global team to develop, advance and engage public policies and regulations to expand access and pharmaceutical innovation. Additionally, he led domestic/international cross-functional teams to align strategic communications and public policy engagements for governmental and nongovernmental audiences.
Prior to joining Gilead, Jones was health practice chairman and principal at the Podesta Group. He served as lead strategist and public policy consultant for Fortune 500 companies, national non-profit organizations and global foundations at the firm. He was the company's first African American health practice chairman and the only African American health chairman of a top-ranked lobbying firm. Additionally, he served on the firm's management committee and was co-chairman of its investment committee.
Before joining the Podesta Group, Jones was the policy director for the U.S. House of Representatives (USHR) Majority Whip office, headed by Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. He was one of four policy directors within the leadership of the USHR, the first African American policy director in the leadership of the USHR and the highest-ranking African American healthcare advisor in the USHR.
Jones received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in sociology and anthropology, and minored in African American studies. Additionally, he received his graduate training in international health policy (with concentrations in economic development and finance) from George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services.
A second new position has been created at WKKF that is national in scope and will be announced in the near future.
"Gail's expertise, leadership and exemplary vision of America Healing makes her an ideal leader for this unprecedented moment in time to lead a groundbreaking effort on behalf of the foundation" says Tabron. "We are excited to announce this comprehensive opportunity in more detail next week, as it builds on both the foundation's legacy and foresight."
Since joining the foundation in 2007, Gail has served as vice president for program strategy with responsibility for multiple areas of programming, including Racial Equity; Food, Health & Well-Being; Community Engagement and Leadership; as well as place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico.
"The board and the CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation continue to demonstrate rare courage, generosity and strategic vision on behalf of vulnerable children," says Christopher. "I deeply appreciate and welcome the opportunity to lead a new undertaking at this critical juncture in our ongoing work to help America heal."
Gail is a nationally recognized author and leader in health policy, with particular expertise and experience in the issues related to social determinants of health, health inequities and public policy issues of concern to our nation's future. Gail has more than 30 years of experience in designing and managing national initiatives and nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining the foundation, Gail was vice president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies' Office of Health, Women and Families in Washington, D.C. There, she led the Joint Center Health Policy Institute, a multi-year initiative created to engage underserved, racial and ethnic minorities in health policy discussions.
Her distinguished career and outstanding contributions to public service were honored in 1996 when she was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2011 she was awarded the "Change Agent Award" by the Schott Foundation for Public Education; in 2012 she was the recipient of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) John C. MacQueen Lecture Award for her innovation and leadership in the field of maternal and child health. Most recently in 2015 she was the recipient of the prestigious Terrance Keenan award for Grantmakers in Health. She is president of the board of the Trust for America's Health.
Gail holds a doctor of naprapathy degree from the Chicago National College of Naprapathy in Illinois and completed advanced study in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in holistic health and clinical nutrition at the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities at Union Graduate School of Cincinnati, Ohio.
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.
SOURCE W.K. Kellogg Foundation