Developing Emerging Leaders to Have a Strong Impact

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Feb 12, 2019
by Lucy Browett
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Developing Emerging Leaders to Have a Strong Impact

Arelis Diaz, director of the office of the president at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shares the impact of the organization’s fellowship program Arelis Diaz at Salzburg Global Seminar

“They want to challenge the status quo, and they speak out about it.” That is how Arelis Diaz of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) characterizes the organization’s fellows.

The Foundation over the years has built up a network of more than 1,700 alumni through its various fellowship programs, designed to promote racial equity, community engagement, and leadership in their participants.

Diaz attended Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change, a three-day immersive learning program hosted by Salzburg Global Seminar, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance.

The program saw more than 40 participants from various foundations and organizations with fellowship programs convene at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria, to partake in workshops, panels, and case-study discussions.

Diaz thinks the values instilled in Kellogg Fellows allow them to stand out from the crowd. She said, “In a room, you would be able to identify between the community engagement, the authentic, [and] which voices get brought into the conversation and then the voice of disrupting that system that exists. I think [that] is very unique to the Kellogg Foundation, so, therefore, is unique in our fellows.”

“We are bold and courageous in naming racial equity and healing as an opportunity. Because once you find that there are some inequities, you want to do something about it.”

The WKKF Community Leadership Network recently announced a new cohort of Kellogg Fellows. The program aims to develop local leaders to have a more significant impact in their communities and marks a partnership between WKKF and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).

Commenting on the partnership, Diaz says, “We created a beautiful marriage between the two curriculums and the two missions of our organizations.”

Staff at WKKF have gone through this leadership program themselves to understand better the assessments carried out as part of the program, enabling them to understand better the results that fellows may get.

Diaz said, “Because everyone has gone through their program, we all know how to interpret those results, and then we know how to work with one another in a better way.”

The executive coaching through CCL and community coaching through WKKF will, according to Diaz, give fellows a well-rounded leadership approach.

She said, “The combination of the two, and we’re going to have both types of coaches in this new cohort, is going to benefit the fellows, and they will now have the very strong voices of boldness towards equity, but they’ll also have how to bring that voice stronger and bolder.”

Diaz points to a personal highlight of seeing the work of Kellogg Fellows in upholding the values of racial equity, community engagements, and leadership.

Kellogg fellow Tim Keller was elected Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, last year and “his platform, very boldly, was racial equity,” suggests Diaz.

New Mexico is one of the WKKF’s key areas they work in, along with Michigan, Mississippi and New Orleans.

Keller’s approach is an example of the unique qualities of Kellogg Fellows in action. As Diaz remarked, “That is not a typical issue or platform that politicians run. Actually, they would probably run away from that platform because it… creates a lot of tensions in communities, so it would be rather unsafe if they wanted to be elected. But he ran for it. Being a Kellogg Fellow, this is what we do.”

The strong sense of collaboration between fellows is evident from the fact Kelly selected many Kellogg Fellows when building up his cabinet. Diaz said, “They network, they stay together, [and] they collaborate.”

Diaz believes the election campaign Kelly ran exemplifies what it means to be a Kellogg Fellow. She said, “In this particular example, he has been able to transform the way that politicians run, are elected and then take office.”

“His agenda as mayor is all about equity, and most of his cabinet are fellow alumni that understand that platform and live it out. Because that’s what happens with a Kellogg Fellow, is that in that transformation of their time as a Kellogg Fellow, they’re transformed to really believe this way. It just becomes who they are.”


The program Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change was held in partnership with The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, as part of the Global Leaders Consortium (GLC).