by. E. Johnson Cooper
Break out the band! Sound the alarms! The Kellogg Foundation names LaJune Mongomery Tabron as its next CEO! Why is this such a big deal? Well it’s really simple: She’s the first female and first African American to lead the 83- year old institution. Toss the confetti!
I’m so excited because I had the chance to meet and chop it up with LaJune at this year’s Head & Heart Philanthropy, Black Philanthropy Summit in Martha’s Vineyard. She has one of the kindest and most genuine spirits you will ever meet. I was in awe at how humble and gracious she was to everyone. Most of the time when you meet an executive at LaJune’s level, you get a canned smile, hello and your request to keep in touch is a card that you know is going to only get you as far as their assistants- but not LaJune. She happily shared her information – hand written nonetheless, and invited an email or call any time. I made today the day I emailed her to congratulate and send her praises!
LaJune’s appointment is the second executive leadership appointment of an African American for a major foundation this year. In June, the Ford Foundation named Darren Walker as its new CEO. “The two appointments are noteworthy not just because they add greater racial and socioeconomic diversity at the highest realm of foundation leadership, but also because in both cases boards tapped an internal candidate. It marks real progress on how we are thinking about what leadership should look like in these organizations,” LaJune shared with The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The appointment of now two African American leaders for two of the most influential foundations is exemplary of where the sector of philanthropy is really moving. If the philanthropy as a sector is changing its face then SURELY this is a nod in the right direction for us – the young black professionals who inhabit the spirit and practice of philanthropy in our lives.
Here’s to LaJune and the Kellogg Foundation! And here’s to us making strides in our own leadership!