Program Officer – Detroit

Program Officer – Detroit

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Detroit, MI   |   July 6, 2020

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.  Upon establishing the foundation in 1930, breakfast cereal pioneer W.K. Kellogg instructed future trustees and staff to “Use the money as you please so long as it promotes the health, happiness and well-being of children.”  To this day, the foundation envisions, and works toward, a nation that marshals its resource to assure that all children have an equitable and promising future – a nation in which all children thrive.

To advance this mission, the foundation implements an array of change-making tools – grantmaking, impact investing, contracting, networking, and convenings and uses an innovative matrixed organizational design to prioritize investment decisions and maximize effectiveness toward achieving the desired ends and improvements for children and their families. A commitment to racial equity, community engagement and leadership development is woven into each endeavor as essential to the creation of a social context in which all children can thrive, particularly the most vulnerable. In recent years, the foundation has sharpened its focus on improving conditions for vulnerable children, concentrating on three key factors of success and their intersections: education and learning; food, health and well-being; and family economic security.

The overall work of the foundation is guided by the following values:

  • We believe in helping people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations.
  • We believe all people have the inherent capacity to effect change in their lives, in their organization, and in their communities. We respect individuals and value their collective interests, strengths and cultures.
  • We believe stewardship requires fidelity to the spirit and to the intent of the founder and the wide use of resources. We believe in being responsible, prudent, selfless and exercising good judgment.
  • We believe innovation of thought and action leads to enduring and positive change in both formal and informal systems.
  • We value integrity of purpose and action, and believe it is essential to all of our affairs.

For more information on the foundation, please visit

The Opportunity

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is seeking a deeply experienced and highly collaborative program officer to join its Michigan Programs and Family Economic Security teams. This role will be dedicated explicitly to advancing economic equity and justice in the city of Detroit, one of the foundation’s priority U.S. cities. This program officer will provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts that nurture opportunities for achieving policy and systemic change that opens access to good jobs and affordable capital, and improves economic and financial outcomes for working families and children throughout the Detroit region.

The candidate will be particularly focused on leveraging the foundation’s role in supporting the economic revitalization of Detroit, and ensuring that low-wage workers and minority- and women-owned businesses, and those families who are members of the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population, are the primary beneficiaries of this effort. In addition, the candidate will be a key leader in shaping and guiding the foundation’s response to COVID-19 in the city, both the short-term economic recovery and the long-term economic reconstruction.

The program officer will screen and recommend grants for funding, conduct site visits, manage and monitor a portfolio of grant programs aligned with the strategic framework and collaborate within the Michigan Programs and Family Economic Security teams and across the foundation to develop a more interdisciplinary approach to grantmaking. The program officer will maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees and act as a spokesperson for the foundation, effectively communicating the goal of partnering with communities to improve the well-being of children and their families. The program officer will work closely with stakeholders in Detroit as well as state-level partners to foster economic security and vitality and new investments in the city.

The new program officer will join an extraordinary team of individuals who are passionate about eradicating social disparities and improving well-being for vulnerable children. S/he/they will be part of a closely connected cross-disciplinary team executing the place-based work that spans across Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Orleans, Haiti, and Mexico. S/he/they will also be a part of a cross-foundational team advancing our family economic security work that covers both the national and local levels in the U.S., and Latin America as well. The place-based and issue-based teams strive to improve conditions and outcomes for working families across these diverse places by sharing best practices and aligning strategies, investments and efforts to drive solutions for systemic change.

The program officer can expect to engage in the following opportunities:

  • Provide leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of grantmaking efforts that are aligned and integrated with the unified mission and vision of the foundation. S/he/they will develop a strong network of key stakeholders, policymakers, business and community leaders, and grantees that support the foundation’s mission and inform and advance its work in Detroit and Michigan. The program officer will expand and deepen the foundation’s work in family economic security, shaping the work and supporting the community to enhance the well-being of children and families throughout the city and state.
  • Collaborate with and support prospective and existing grantees in developing funding strategies, requests, and plans with a focus on change-making relevant to policies and systems. The program officer will provide high-level technical assistance to grantees including conducting site visits and consulting on model development, partnership negotiations, capacity building, and leadership coaching. S/he/they will identify and recommend grantmaking opportunities that leverage WKKF investments for maximum impact in creating policy and systems change, and will maintain strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, ensuring mutual understanding of WKKF program direction, goals, and expectations.
  • Create learning communities and collaborative networks amongst grantees and partners, develop and manage learning and evaluation components for grants, and cultivate a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about trends, practices, and issues relevant to family economic security. The program officer will work closely with WKKF’s Learning and Impact team to incorporate assessment components into program efforts to measure progress and impact. S/he/they will document and circulate lessons learned from grant investments, grantee convenings, and other foundation-related activities. S/he/they will work collaboratively to identify and prioritize the highest value knowledge and learning from the foundation’s investments, convenings and activities.
  • Build public and policy goodwill and awareness of issues affecting vulnerable children and families. The program officer will contribute ideas on how the foundation’s knowledge and learning could be packaged and disseminated to benefit nonprofit executives, business leaders, government officials, community leaders, parents, and other external stakeholders of the foundation. S/he/they will serve as a credible, articulate representative and spokesperson for the foundation and will communicate the program’s strategic direction and funding interests to various audiences, internal and external to the foundation.
  • Identify and nurture opportunities for affecting positive policy and systemic change as a foundation. The program officer will join a team responsible for grantmaking locally, nationally, and internationally, specifically to advance key campaigns and initiatives for family economic security, including, but not limited to, employment equity, workforce development, enterprise development, financial stability and income generation.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be first and foremost committed to the foundation’s mission and aligned with the foundation’s deep commitment to racial equity and community engagement. S/he/they will have a current and historic understanding of the broad racial, economic, social, and systemic forces affecting the well-being of children, their families and their communities. A strategic and systems thinker, with extensive leadership, management and budget experience, she/he/they will bring a strong team orientation, a high tolerance for ambiguity and the ability to adapt quickly to change. The ideal candidate will also be a partnership and network builder, with robust local, regional, and national networks, connected to both long-standing and emerging leaders, institutions and industries in the city and region. The program officer will also have a solid grasp of labor, capital, and financial markets, and public and private sector systems and funding. With a deep understanding of the systemic barriers that working families face in the current economy as well as the structural challenges of generating income and building wealth, the program officer will be motivated to identify promising opportunities to remake the economy so that it includes and benefits low-income families. A skilled and passionate advocate, the ideal candidate will also have the experience, skill and passion to assume leadership and management of a large body of work, and the gravitas and ability to take responsibility for full execution of a strategy.

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Eight to ten years of significant relevant local, state, and national systems experience in workforce development, enterprise development, economic development, job quality, and worker rights; familiarity and experience with the grantmaking process as well as strong connections and networks in Detroit and nationally are a plus; Master’s degree in a field relevant to the portfolio is preferred;
  • Demonstrated flexible, multidisciplinary thinking required to address the social determinants of economic security and the drive to shape and inform the work based on the immediate issues and opportunities found in low-income communities; understanding of the broad social and economic forces that affect communities and families and shape programming and policy efforts; holistic and multi-dimensional approach to leadership development, organizational change and community transformation;
  • Sophisticated understanding of economic disparities in Detroit, throughout Michigan, and for low-income families and low-wage workers, and the related systems and policy landscapes at the local, state and federal levels; ability to navigate successfully the different legal, social and political forces at play in the local governance systems in Detroit and state governance systems in Michigan; knowledge of workforce and financial systems, capital markets, and economic mobility policy and practices that leverage diverse models and effective strategies for economic security, particularly among underserved communities;
  • Expertise in understanding philanthropy’s role in economic development and justice work, and policy and advocacy efforts to sustain program success, and the current trends, movements and innovations in developing economies and policies to advance and magnify philanthropic investment and capitalize on emerging opportunities;
  • Experience leading efforts to build coalitions across sectors, e.g. between nonprofits and employers, who are committed to creating equitable and sustainable economies and markets for low-wage workers, business owners, women and persons of color;
  • Demonstrated success in forging and stewarding partnerships with the private sector, government agencies, policymakers, foundations and economic development and economic justice organizations in support of low-income children and families;
  • The knowledge and sensitivity to effectively work with and support vulnerable communities including appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of social, racial, and ethnic realities;
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement programs that have impact; ability to think globally while working locally, representing WKKF to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way and with a selfless manner focusing on common values and the greater good;
  • Successful experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social, racial and ethnic backgrounds; willingness to set aside a personal agenda in favor of team, organizational and community goals and objectives;
  • Strong relationship building and communication skills; the ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive issues including funding priorities, WKKF expectations and community concerns; highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening skills, and the ability to use interpersonal and political skills in collaborative, diplomatic ways;
  • Excellent writing, editing, analytical and oral communication skills including the ability to collect, review, synthesize and present learnings and findings;
  • Ability to multitask and meet deadlines within designated timeframes, as well as demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities; strong organizational skills and exceptional attention to detail with the ability to work both independently, take initiative and contribute ideas for enhancing performance;
  • An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity and patience necessary to work within a transformative environment; and
  • Ability to travel primarily regionally approximately 50 percent time; regular attendance on-site at the Battle Creek headquarters to facilitate interaction and synthesis of the grantmaking programs is required.

Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Erin Reedy ([email protected]) and Marisa Chock ([email protected]) are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or reach out via email. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit