By Alan Weil (April 16, 2015)

Shortly before Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for policy and senior advisor for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, received the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy from Grantmakers in Health, I sat down with her to talk.  We discussed the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s comprehensive approach to helping children, how the foundation entered the realm of health policy, and the foundation’s commitment to a “place-based” strategy and promoting racial equity. Dr. Christopher shared her perspective as a clinician with training in naprapathy and her reaction to receiving the prestigious award.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

Kellogg’s Mission and Vision
“Unlike many foundations, we have no trouble sticking to the mandate of our founder. He [W.K. Kellogg] said explicitly: Do what you will with the money so long as it helps children. That allows us the freedom to be creative, but also the mandate to be focused on children.”

Health Policy’s Role
“What we want to do is be more present with the policy discussions…. One of the realities of a democracy is that it’s never done. There’s always an opportunity to go backwards. If you’re not there at the table in the conversations, if you’re not building relationships that you can count on in terms of understanding of the issues above the noise, then you won’t maintain your momentum.”

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