Kellogg Promotes From Within For New CEO

October 21, 2013       Patrick Sullivan      

La June Montgomery Tabron, chief operating officer and treasurer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will become the organization’s next president and chief executive officer. She will replace Sterling Speirn, who in October 2012 announced his intention to step down effective December 31, 2013.

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to serve and to lead this wonderful foundation to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children,” said Tabron, 51, via a statement. She has been with the Battle Creek, Mich., organization for 26 years, starting as a financial controller.

“(Tabron) knows the Kellogg foundation, she knows the places in which we work,” said Vice President for Communications Joanne Krell. “She has a strong relationship with the board and she knows the staff well. She has an incredibly clear picture around the values of the organization. She can hit the ground running because she has such a strong understanding of how the foundation works.”

Krell said the foundation’s board of trustees has been searching for a new leader since “probably from the second quarter (of 2013) on, until we announced today.” Speirn will remain “fully engaged” until his departure at the end of the year, said Krell. “One of his wins is La June being promoted into this job,” she said. “There’s hardly a role more important to a leader than developing his or her team.”

According to the organization’s Form 990-PF from fiscal year ending August 2012, Tabron earned $317,161, plus $165,816 in employee benefits plan contribution as chief operating officer and treasurer. Speirn earned $495,095 plus another $816,243 in employee benefits plan contributions, according to the same document. Krell did not know if Tabron’s salary will be raised to more closely align with Speirn’s compensation. “La June’s salary hasn’t been made public, and I suspect it will be public when it’s in the (next) 990,” she said.

The 65-year-old Speirn has led WWKF since 2006. Krell said she did not know his exact plans after he steps down, but she said he doesn’t plan on retiring. “He will work in the field that serves vulnerable children, families and communities, but I’m not aware of what precisely he’ll be doing,” said Krell. She said he most likely would not remain involved with WWKF “in a formal way.”

Tabron is the first female and first African American to lead the 83-year-old organization. “La June is the perfect choice to lead WKKF,” said Speirn in the release. “She has been a co-architect of the foundation’s strategy, and she has done it with great skill, grace and leadership. The board’s decision to choose home-grown talent speaks volumes about La June’s ability to lead the implementation of this work.”