Russell Mawby Oral History Interviews


Part one

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SCARPINO: We’re live and the needle’s bouncing so I’m going to start by reading a short statement here of what we’re doing and then I’m going to ask your permission in case we ever lose the forms you just signed.

MAWBY: [laughing] Okay, great.

SCARPINO: So today is October 28th and I’m interviewing Dr. Russell G. Mawby, Chairman Emeritus, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, at the Annual Meeting of the International Leadership Association in Boston, Massachusetts. Russ Mawby will be honored by the International Leadership Association with the Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Study and Practice of Leadership. So congratulations.

MAWBY: Thank you.

SCARPINO: So, I would like to ask your permission to record this interview, to have the interview transcribed, and to deposit the interview and the transcription in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives for the use of their patrons.

MAWBY: Certainly, you have my permission.

SCARPINO: Thank you. All right, and as I said before we started I’m going to begin with some softball questions.

MAWBY: All right, good.

SCARPINO: When and where were you born?

MAWBY: I was born on a farm, fruit farm, just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan in February 23rd, 1928.

SCARPINO: And who were your parents?

MAWBY: Excuse me?

SCARPINO: Who were your parents?

MAWBY: My parents were Wesley G. Mawby and Ruby A. Finch Mawby. They were both farm kids. Grew up, both of them, on fruit farms, interestingly, and completed eight years of education in one-room Peach Grove School. This was a little fruit district outside the city of Grand Rapids at that point, and of course that part of Grand Rapids Township are all now, all houses, of all of the fruit farms and there were nine, I think, at the height of the fruit district there in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Only one is still a producing fruit orchard.

SCARPINO: So they became casualties of our centralized food distribution system.

MAWBY: [laughing] That’s right, that’s right.

SCARPINO: But it is kind of interesting how that part of Michigan has, still in some ways, is devoted to fruit production.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: Blueberries and cherries.

MAWBY: That’s right, and of course the fruit district in all of Michigan is a consequence of the tempering influence of Lake Michigan.


MAWBY: So it starts right down at Michigan City and goes all the way up to Traverse City with the cherry orchards and vineyards now up on the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

SCARPINO: Gives you a lot of lake effect snow too.

MAWBY: That’s right. [laughing] It certainly does. A lot of shoveling.

SCARPINO: What impact do you think that your parents had on the development of the values and outlook that you carried into your adult life?

MAWBY: They were a tremendous impact. Remarkable parents. As I’ve mentioned, each of them just completed eight grades of Peach Grove School and completed their education which was fairly customary for farm kids at that time. My dad was born in 1895 and his father, Remus George Mawby, I got the initials R. G. but Remus became Russell to my pleasure. Remus George Mawby came to the United States at age 10 with his grandparents from Leicestershire in central England. Traveled then to northern Ohio where there were relatives and friends and Remus completed, again, a country school in northern Ohio, went to a little teacher’s preparation school in Valparaiso, Indiana, and then returned to Ohio and then to Michigan to teach in one-room schools. And he moved then, again, where he had friends near Grand Rapids and Remus became a one-room schoolteacher. And so he was, lacked formal education but was a lifelong learner. That’s my grandfather.

But he implanted that in his son Wesley also. Remus had six children—three daughters and three sons, and Wesley was the oldest of the boys. After he completed his eight grades in Peach Grove School, Wesley went to work for a successful fruit grower, Oscar Braman. And Mr. Braman was a civic leader as well as a successful farmer, very much engaged in the community, and encouraged Wesley to get some further education. And so in 1913, when he was 18 years old, Wesley got on a train in Grand Rapids for his first train ride, got off the train in downtown Lansing, walked about seven miles to the campus of Michigan Agricultural College—now Michigan State University—Michigan Agricultural College for a 10-week fruit-growing short course, and that made a tremendous difference in his life and therefore in the Mawby family. So I’m always grateful to Oscar Braman, and Oscar’s oldest son was named Russell, and so that’s where my name came from.

SCARPINO: Started a long family association at Michigan State too.

MAWBY: Long time with the Bramans, and so my parents then married and lived in the hired man’s house at the Braman farm until 1925 when they bought one of Mr. Braman’s farms and called it Orchard View Farm, and a 140-acre orchard, and Orchard View School was a two-room country school on the corner of Orchard View Farm, and so I had two brothers and a sister. My older brother Edwin and then my sister Marian, then I was the third, my younger brother, Roger, and the four of us all went to Orchard View School. This was in the period before school consolidation but we went to high school in Grand Rapids and the local school district could pay tuition for students like us to go to school in Grand Rapids.

So the folks, now my mother was also a continuing learner. Became very much involved in the extension programs of Michigan State University, of the homemakers courses and so forth. She was a volunteer leader. She was involved in United Way. She was the bookkeeper, the accountant, for Orchard View Farm. And so my parents both emphasized education and learning and engagement and volunteering and my dad was what I guess a sociologist would call an early adopter. Always on the front edge of developments because he kept in touch with not just the extension agents in the county but with the research faculty members of the university in East Lansing, particularly in the fruit industry. And for example, a couple of innovations, just to characterize my dad’s leadership role, he was one of the first in that region, and it was the East Beltline Fruit District, the little region, but then the larger fruit area, Sparta, he was one of the first, my dad was one of the first to build a fruit storage. Now most of the orchards had started out…

SCARPINO: Is that cold storage?

MAWBY: Cold storage, for storage of apples. Most of the farms had started off with a small dairy herd. That was the every two weeks you’ve got a milk jack and that was the basis of most of those family farms of that period in time, and then they would shift and get out of the dairy business and convert the basement of the barn into a cold storage. But my dad wasn’t satisfied with that, and was one of the first to build a storage for apples. First air-cooled, then ice-cooled, and then refrigerated. So he was a pioneer in management of the fruit operation. Then that was the period when merchandising was changing and up until then you always sold apples in the bushel crate or a bushel basket.

SCARPINO: I remember bushel baskets.

MAWBY: The bushel basket, and so when shoppers went to the grocery store the grocer would weigh out two pounds or five pounds of apples. But that was the launching, then, of self-serve, and people like Fred Meijer and that became Meijer’s Thrifty Acres. Fred Meijer was self-serve was interested in having apples in, pre-packaged in five-pound mesh bags and my dad was one of the first, again, to set up a packing house operation so that six bags of apples would go into a standard crate and deliver them to Fred Meijer and to other self-service grocery operations.

So my dad was always a pioneer, always interested and engaged. He was on the local planning board. He was on the board of review in local government. He was on the state apple commission and he was a member of a state land use planning committee, and one of the things he used to do, those committees used to meet on the campus of Michigan State College in East Lansing, usually in the Student Union Building. So often he would take me along and the meeting would start at 10 o’clock, he would give me, I can’t remember, fifty cents or a dollar, so that I could wander the campus and find a sandwich and an ice cream cone for lunch and become acquainted with the university, so that always thinking of new experiences and opportunities.

So that my parents were just wonderful parents, had the right values for the family, it was a warm, encouraging family support. My older brother didn’t want to go to the college for a full baccalaureate degree, but like his dad, our dad, went for a fruit-growing short course. My sister then went for a two-year program and I was the first in the family to go on to a baccalaureate degree, College of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture, majoring in pomology which was of course fruit growing. So that the parents were completely supportive. Two youth organizations that really made the greatest difference to me would have been the 4-H Club Program, which provided a lot of wonderful experiences. Again, because 4-H is a youth program of land grant universities, my first experience in staying at a college dormitory was as a 4-H Club member, probably 14 or 15 years old, going down for a week-long experience.

SCARPINO: Must have been pretty exciting for a young man.

MAWBY: I began to think that gee, I could do this. And so it was that parental encouragement every step of the way from both my mother and my dad. Now the other youth organization, Boy Scouts, and the two were quite different in what they provided for me. The two different experiences, but both very important, and I continued to be engaged and still have active engagement with both of those youth-serving programs.

SCARPINO: What rank did you attain in the scouts?

MAWBY: Eagle. Eagle Scout.

SCARPINO: I thought so. [laughter]

MAWBY: So you don’t stop until you get the eagle, and proud that then I was recognized by the Boy Scouts national organization, as a distinguished eagle award. So I continued to be engaged in those programs because they made a difference in my life, and I’m anxious to provide that opportunity for other young people coming along.

SCARPINO: Do you think that achievement and not stopping until you hit the top are part of your personality?

MAWBY: I suspect so. Why not? [laughter] And, well, the, you know, Mom and Dad were always supportive, anxious to be helpful. See, I was born in 1928. That was just the launching of the depression.

SCARPINO: That’s right.

MAWBY: The Mawby family never felt poor. I’m sure we didn’t have much money, but that didn’t dominate the family supper conversation. We were talking about things to do and things to be done. I had my chores just as my sister and brothers had their chores in the farm. So that you felt a part of the farm team. That you were making a difference.

SCARPINO: Was that important to you to feel a part of the team?

MAWBY: You bet it was.

SCARPINO: What did a young man do on the farm?

MAWBY: What did, it depended on age. My dad bought a John Deere tractor in 1936, John Deere AO.

SCARPINO: The kind with the wheels that point like that?



MAWBY: Because the AO, the O is for orchard and the tricycle, the narrow one that came out the same year, the A was the tricycle. But you didn’t want the tricycle in the orchard, so that the orchard had the wheels apart. He bought that John Deere tractor. I still have it.

SCARPINO: Does it run?

MAWBY: It runs, yes sir. When you stop in Phil, we’ll start it up. But in those days you had standard apple trees. They weren’t the new semi-dwarf or dwarf that are the mark of the apple industry now, and so this John Deere, the creeper gear, go really slow, 800 gallon tank of John Bean spray rig with a platform for one man and a barrel, a tower above, for two men and then a kid, eight years old, nine years old, 10 years old, could drive the tractor for those two men to spray trees. I could then use it for discing in the orchards and do all of those jobs.

I was always interested in animals, and so I had the poultry operation was mine, and I had a, my dad traded in the team when he got that, the team of horses when he got the John Deere tractor and a part of that deal, he got me a pony because I loved horses and still do. And so, but you see I was in high school the four years of World War II and labor was short. My brother, older brother, went off to the Navy, and so, all during the fall, come home after school and hauled in the apples that we picked during the day into that storage. But just a part of the team, and it was important because you made a contribution. You were a contributing member of the farm operation.

SCARPINO: You put in long days.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: What did you learn about work ethic on that farm?

MAWBY: Well, you just learned that every job, there’s no unimportant job, and everything was worth doing and it was worth doing as well as you could do it because it had to be done right to fit into the total farm operation. Others were depending on you to do that. You were a part of the team and you learned to do. So you were up early in the morning doing chores before you went to high school. Came home, worked until we went and got the ice to fill those bunkers to cool the apples in the evening and, priority again with the folks was always if you’ve got homework, that takes priority over farm work. School work took priority over farm work but you were expected to do both.

SCARPINO: Did you ever pull out the book [laughter] to get out of the farm work?

MAWBY: No, no, not really because it was just a, that was a part of the ethic of the family.

SCARPINO: Where did you get the ice?

MAWBY: We had to go into Grand Rapids Coal and Ice operation, and big chunks of ice to cool it. Before then we got the refrigeration units.

SCARPINO: When you graduated from high school, what did you imagine your life was going to be like?

MAWBY: I thought probably, well I went to Michigan State, majored in pomology, fruit growing, anticipating that I would probably be engaged somehow in the fruit industry. That was the family enterprise. My dad always said you need to get beyond farm production. You need to get into management. You get into marketing. There’s a better life than farming for you, and so just encouraged me to think beyond that in terms of opportunities for the future. So I completed my bachelor’s degree in the spring of 1949. In the summer of 1948 the 4-H Club Program—this was after World War II—had started an exchange program and in the United States there were 17 young people selected, and one was from Michigan…

SCARPINO: And you were that one.

MAWBY: …and that was Russ Mawby, and so in the summer of 1948 I spent three months in the United Kingdom. There were 17 of us that went to different countries of Northern Europe, and I was in the United Kingdom. Well that, again, provided a different perspective.

SCARPINO: Where were you in the United Kingdom?

MAWBY: Started in Wales and then the North Country up through Yorkshire.

SCARPINO: So you were out of the areas that had been bombed.

MAWBY: We saw it. We were in London. It was, 1948 was the year of the Olympics in London, and so we got to see one day of the Olympics and, but that again gave me a different perspective. So I came back for my senior year and those were the days in which you took slides and then you took, went out and gave, I was traveling all over southern Michigan, meeting with 4-H groups and farm groups talking about my experiences as an international 4-H youth exchange delegate. And so that again provided a different opportunity for me, a different perspective.

SCARPINO: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while you were in the United Kingdom?

MAWBY: Just that to appreciate the common humanity of the human network, and that met people there and on the continent briefly through Netherlands into Paris before coming back on a converted—we traveled over on a converted troop ship and we came back on a converted troop ship. So we traveled with a lot of other college-aged young people, but just that you need to get acquainted with the world and that we do have a common concerns and values and future. The other thing I ought to mention, an unusual experience for me, toward the end of my sophomore year, majoring in horticulture, many of my classes were in the horticulture building, and one day Dr. Harold B. Tukey, who was the head of the Department of Horticulture, stopped me in the hallway. I didn’t know he would know me, let alone stop me and say, “Mr. Mawby could you step into my office?”

SCARPINO: You’d come to his attention. [laughing]

MAWBY: And I wondered what had gone awry and he just said, “Russ,” he said, “you’re a good student and you’re doing very well and we’re proud, but I have just one suggestion for you. If it happens that your career is going to be in horticulture, you’ll have to get a master’s degree, and probably a doctorate, and we’ll make you a specialist then.” So he said, “My suggestion for you is simply this. During your junior and senior years, take as few courses, credits, in horticulture as we’ll let you get by with and still have a degree in horticulture. Take as few credits of the College of Agriculture as we’ll let you get by with and still have a degree in agriculture, and then sample this great university. He said, “I don’t care what you study, anything you’re interested in—great religions of the world, philosophy, music, whatever you’re interested in. Sample this great university.”

SCARPINO: So what did you take?

MAWBY: I particularly was interested—I took a variety of things—but the greatest concentration was in journalism. That was before they had a College of Communications and so forth and didn’t have any concentration of agricultural communications or journalism at that time at Michigan State. But I took a lot of courses in journalism. I enjoyed writing. I got involved in the student newspaper. I, in a lot of my classes in was the only ag student there, because other ag students were concentrating—whether is was animal science or soils or whatever, they were getting deeper and deeper. My college advisor assigned what wanted me to continue to concentrate, but I just followed Dr. Tukey’s advice and sampled that great university.

And so I got engaged beyond the College of Agriculture, and became acquainted with a lot of undergraduate students, and had quite a different total undergraduate experience but I was still very active. I was the president of the horticulture club, was a sophomore inductee into the Alpha Zeta, the agriculture honorary, but I was the only first ag student to ever be inducted into Excalibur, which was university-wide recognition. I was the founding editor of the Homesteader, which was a magazine of agriculture and home economics. So I was really engaged throughout the university and because of the iffy experience, that 4-H exchange experience, spoke as a college senior at the, at one of the major sessions of the annual extension of staff, annual meeting three days on campus and I was one of the speakers as an undergraduate, with the president of the university in the audience. So, unusual experiences and opportunities.

SCARPINO: It also sounds to me, though, that you really were a leader as an undergraduate.

MAWBY: Yeah, I was. Sure.

SCARPINO: That you were the man who was at the front of the pack.

MAWBY: Sure, and one of the richest parts of that experience as an undergraduate in addition to the coursework and those student organizations was a membership in the combination social/professional fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) agriculture, and that’s been a lifelong relationship. So I was active in that undergraduate chapter. The interesting thing, I was the, you see, in 1945 starting as a freshman, the influx of GIs was tremendous. So I was the youngest member of the chapter but elected president of the chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho, and then went on and became president of course of the educational foundation at the fraternity and helped create that dimension of the fraternity which was tax-exempt, whereas membership in the fraternity per se is not, but we wanted to get, so I was involved in creating that dimension of the national fraternity. Served as national president and again a cadre of friendships and contacts so that yeah, I was engaged.

SCARPINO: Do you think that as a person develops as a leader that it’s important to have a network of friends and contacts?

MAWBY: Oh, it’s always. In the final analysis only people make things happen and that’s not the, it’s not the old boys' network, it’s a network for everyone. And so I can cite interesting examples of how I learn those lessons and how you engage with whoever needs to be engaged in dealing with an issue. One of the first fascinating experiences I had, the only elective office of, politically elective office I’ve ever had, was local school board. When I was on the faculty at Michigan State then until I joined the staff of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and we moved down to a rural community, Augusta, Richland, outside the pathway between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo and the, there had been a joining of the Richland Community Schools and the W. K. Kellogg consolidated school at Hickory Corners. Those had merged and they had then, had two high schools, and had gone through the process—the school board—of hiring an architect and planning one high school.

We moved in just at that time that the community had for the third vote, third time, turned down the recommendation of the school board. And so we moved in and I, of course, as a parent and Ruth, my wife, we became engaged. She was a professional home economist and had been an extension worker. So we became engaged in the community. We had adopted three kids and we were active and so I went to some meetings and ended up then on the school board. Well one of the leaders of the movement to defeat the school plans was a businessman, a small businessman, a smart entrepreneur, Jack Smith. He wasn’t against education. He was just fed up with the school board that had hired an architect from Austin, Texas. And we had some wonderful architects in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Battle Creek, Michigan. They hired an architect from Austin, Texas, and old Jack said you know it’s going to cost more to have an architect from Austin than from, and then that bright architect had designed a school building with a round gymnasium. Not the basketball court, but the building was round, and so all you had to do was walk into the café in Hickory Corners and you talk about laughing about the round gymnasium. We’re going to have the only round basketball court [laughing] in the country.

So Jack Smith then got elected to the board and the next year I was elected to the board, and the chairman of the board then came to me and said, you know, we’ve still got this building problem. Would you chair the building committee to develop, review the plans and develop the plans and I said no, I won’t chair that committee, but if Jack Smith will co-chair it with me, I’ll co-chair it with Jack and we’ll solve the school problem. So Jack Smith and I were co-chairs. Now he had never functioned in that role, and he was uncomfortable presiding at a meeting. I said no problem, Jack. You and I will just always be at the table and we started not talking about a high school at all. We started with the three elementary schools. Didn’t have a hot lunch, didn’t have a library and so forth, and we just built the plan and it passed three for one on the first go-round. So, but you learn those skills that you have to engage people and Jack Smith was a firm supporter of education, but he just thought they were wasting money and doing some foolish things, and in fact we came out with a good plan.

SCARPINO: So listening and engaging were qualities that served you well.

MAWBY: Always, always, always, yeah.

SCARPINO: I want to ask you two more questions about your youth before we move on.

MAWBY: Yes. Sure.

SCARPINO: You were born in 1928.

MAWBY: 1928.

SCARPINO: Before the economy crashed. So you were in elementary school during the depression and high school during World War II.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: What impact did growing up there in two of the most significant crises of the 20th century have on you as you became an adult?

MAWBY: Again, a sensitivity. As I mentioned, the Mawby family, my mom and dad didn’t talk about depression and so forth. They had to be dealing with it, but interestingly were able to, they bought the Braman farm from Oscar Braman in 1925. Remodeled the house in 1935, the depths of the depression. So that we ended up with not just one bathroom downstairs but one upstairs and one downstairs and so forth and they did some traveling. We, in 1939, took a family vacation over the Christmas holidays to go to Florida.

So that they, they always approached life positively and didn’t talk about tough times, the difficulties, we just dealt with those. We didn’t live fancy but about once a month we would go to the Cherry Inn, which was the nicest restaurant on the east side of Grand Rapids for Sunday dinner after church, so that we had a good family life. But we were very sensitive because a lot of the families, a number, half a dozen of the families, Dad was working for either the PWA or the WPA. They didn’t have much money and those kids couldn’t afford underwear, and they couldn’t have a new coat for winter, and so my folks would help, inconspicuously, those families and would provide some extra work for Mr. Petit at the farm. He could help paint this, that and the other thing just to help the family. So that you became very sensitive to that. During…

SCARPINO: What did you learn from watching them do that?

MAWBY: Excuse me?

SCARPINO: What did you learn from watching them do that?

MAWBY: You learned to respect people because these were good people. They were unemployed but they were good people. They had the right values. They wanted to do differently than they were able to do and they wanted their kids to finish Orchard View School, and if possible, to go on to Creston High School and you just learned to be concerned about neighbors and the school was very much a social center for the community. We had potlucks and we had an annual, every spring we had the school picnic and the parents came and we went and my dad got the farm truck—all illegal now, you know—the low rack and you put apple crates and a plank on there and the kids would ride and the parents would ride in the back and we went off to Townsend Park and just engaged with the community.

During World War II my dad was one of the civil defense officers for our square mile and we went, we had blackout drills and we would drive in the dark to see if everybody had their lights out. I, at that point, had completed my first aid merit badge in scouting so the Red Cross at Grand Rapids Township Hall held training sessions and I could be a teacher as well as a student in those classes. So that you were engaged actively, and we, it was the period when we bought the defense bonds and the stamps and my dad used to send a basket, a bushel of good apples that kids could get an apple if they bought a defense saving stamp and so forth. So just that kind of engagement always. And so you were sensitive to the problems of other people. We suffered when Ray Stank… and that was a Polish immigrant family. Stankiewicz I think or something from Poland. But Ray went off into the service and was killed in action. The whole community suffered.

SCARPINO: Did you worry about your brother while he was serving in the Navy?

MAWBY: He never got out, never got to sea. He went through Great Lakes and then was domestically assigned, so never saw battle. I was blessed also. I served for two years, ’53–’55 between Korea and Vietnam. So I was assigned magically to the field artillery because of my ag background, I guess, and I was in fire direction control at Camp Chaffee, Fort Smith, Arkansas.

SCARPINO: Well, maybe the fact that you knew something about math got you assigned to field artillery.

MAWBY: [laughing] Yeah, that’s right.

SCARPINO: I mean you had to compute…

MAWBY: That’s right. We sure did.

SCARPINO: …the fire formulas and everything, so I mean, I’ll tell you…

MAWBY: So the depression, we were very sensitive, we were very aware of it, we were very aware of the war effort, and you know, the rationing and so forth. We didn’t abuse the farm privilege. At age 14 then I had a driver’s license during the war and for farm work. So you were responsible. You were engaged and you were helping with something bigger. And it’s, you’ll hear me talking about the fact that I really feel blessed to have been a part of a farm family in a rural community because you were engaged differently, and what society somehow now has done is to prolong adolescence for most young people into their mid to late twenties and then the unreal life of so many kids, that they have no way of contributing and engaging and that ends up with gangs and so forth because they don’t have any home and they don’t have any family, and it’s a tragic situation in society. So I was blessed by the circumstances of depression and war in a positive way because of my parents.

SCARPINO: Your family belonged to North Park Presbyterian Church?

MAWBY: North Park Presbyterian Church.

SCARPINO: Did faith play a role as you grew up?

MAWBY: Yes, in a little different way. My mother was very active in the church and was very, and my older sister was very active in youth programs. My youth activities were more with the 4-H and Boy Scouts, which was sponsored by the church. My dad had, was a man of faith, but he was devastated by his experience with the Methodist church and that to share in the middle of the depression. He, you know, in 1925 bought the farm and was in debt. He used to say gosh, you know, when interest rates got up to 10% everybody was moaning. He said, I paid 10% in 1925—interest rates. But he was active in the Methodist church in Grand Rapids and the church had borrowed money and they were in trouble and my dad was on the board of trustees, the governing board. The pastor sat down and said Wesley, you’re the only one that’s got any money. The whole thing is your responsibility. And so the pastor and the rest dumped it on my dad, and he had no further use for the organized church. He would go to church, but he never was engaged.

So the church was less a part of the Mawby family than I wish it might have been. But that was the unhappy experience of, he was willing to pay to, but he felt that the others should have been engaged in some way, some responsibility. So that he with them could have worked it through rather than just dumping it on his plate.

SCARPINO: So you graduated from Michigan State in 1949.

MAWBY: Correct.

SCARPINO: With a B.S. in horticulture. When you graduated in 1949, where did you imagine your career was going to take you?

MAWBY: Surprisingly, I mentioned that I had done a lot of work in journalism.


MAWBY: So I had two job offers. One, and it was interesting, journalism majors couldn’t find jobs, but I had two job offers because I had a specialty. One, I was offered a job with the Michigan Farmer which was the farm magazine for the State of Michigan, with Milon Grinnell, editor, and he wanted me to join his staff.

SCARPINO: Grinnell, you said?

MAWBY: Milon Grinnell was his name, of the Michigan Farmer. It was a part of a network of farm magazine, monthlies. And the other job offer was Better Homes and Gardens in gardening, because I was a horticulture major, and so I had a specialty in addition to just journalism. And so I was tempted because I was kind of tired of the academic, but as I mentioned I was active in Alpha Zeta which was the ag honorary. And the chapter advisor had submitted my name for a national competition for a scholarship, and I hadn’t known that my name had been submitted and I got a telegram saying congratulations you have been awarded—I think it was $4,000 scholarship in 1949.

SCARPINO: That was a lot of money in 1949.

MAWBY: 1949. Well it was a free ride at Purdue University in agriculture economics. So instead of going off to either of the, to the Better Homes and Gardens or the Michigan Farmer, I went to Purdue University in the fall of ’49, finished my degree, and then I thought I would automatically go into military service because the draft was, and I’d been deferred for education. But the local draft board said no, we’ve deferred you for the year. We can’t take you in January so you’d better go on to school. So I, when I had, I was actually drafted in October of 1953 for two years of service.

SCARPINO: But in the meantime you started a Ph.D. program.

MAWBY: In the meantime, I had finished my master’s, started the Ph.D. program and was an extension specialist then at Michigan State in farm policy. Specifically it was about the point that farmers for the first time could qualify for social security.

SCARPINO: Expandable formula, that’s right.


SCARPINO: Social security had an expandable formula.

MAWBY: Yeah, yeah, and so farmers for the first time could quality for social security, and I was involved in designing the educational materials to go statewide in Michigan educating farmers. The second thing I was engaged in the preparation of a series called “What Next in Korea” as a part of rural extension work because we were in that Korean War mess and “What Next in Korea.” Interestingly also then, I had done a little drama work when I was an undergraduate. In addition to being in newspapers I was on the stage a little bit.

SCARPINO: You were in the theater?


SCARPINO: You were in the theater.

MAWBY: Theater. But not musical. And so this was when television just started, and so that the television station up on the top floor of the electrical engineering building and we prepared kinescopes. Thirteen films and this quarterly series that we filmed and shipped out to Escanaba and Grand Rapids and TV stations all across the state of Michigan, and I was the host on a series, one was called Rural Roundup. Another was called Country Crossroads and we’d have extension specialists in nutrition, human nutrition, livestock, dairy, soil conversation and so forth, and I was the host interviewing these people.

SCARPINO: Of your own television show.

MAWBY: On my own television show, yeah. I never went national [laughing] with that but another tremendous experience to pioneer that.

SCARPINO: So what did you learn about using new technologies from hosting your own television show?

MAWBY: Oh. I’m not sure. I just know that they would write the darnedest scripts and that didn’t sound like Russ Mawby at all. And we were going to talk about water and they had down from the mountains come water, fresh as an ice, that doesn’t sound like Russ Mawby. I can’t do that so they would let me ad lib my own then. So, but it was just another learning experience because then I was working with people in ag engineering and in farm management and in soils and crops and forestry and family living and so forth. Again, just broadening my interests and framework of interests.

SCARPINO: You were, married your wife Ruth in 1950?

MAWBY: I married my wife Ruth in 1950.

SCARPINO: How did you meet her?

MAWBY: I met her because in the summer of 1949, I graduated in, in ’48 I went on the International 4-H Youth Exchange, the summer of 1949 I was a summer 4-H Club agent in Kent County, and Ruth Edison, the daughter of the Arthur P. Edison family, fruit growers and dairy herd operation. Ruth was a county home demonstration agent, and she and I ran the 4-H camp for about three or four weeks and that’s where I got acquainted with Ruth in the summer of ’49 and we got married in December of 1950. Anticipating then that shortly after that I would be going off to military, and actually didn’t go to the service until 1953. So we were married. I was then working as an extension specialist until I was inducted in October of ’53. Ruth then died in the fiftieth year of our marriage in the year 2000. Had had polio when she was a kid and then had to cope with post-polio syndrome, the recurrence of paralysis for about the last 10 years of her life.

SCARPINO: So it was, polio stayed with her for the rest of her life.

MAWBY: Yes, well, she didn’t have much effect. She had a little curvature of the spine but no lasting problems, but it was a recurrence. They called it post-polio syndrome, a recurrence of the paralysis. So she actually had more paralysis then than she did when she was nine or 10 years old.

SCARPINO: Polio was a terrible scourge that we don’t remember very much anymore.

MAWBY: Oh, gosh, you know. That’s right. It’s a blessing. So that was interesting and of course the reality then, Ruth and I had always said that one of us will go first and the survivor should find another partner because life is too precious to live alone. Well, when Ruth died I had retired in 1995. She died in 2000 and I said no, I’ll never remarry. But boy, living on that little farm with the horses I’ve got, you know, for 50 years we had breakfast together just virtually every morning, and so interestingly, and you’ll meet Lou Ann, when I went to work for the Kellogg Foundation as the Director of the Division of Agriculture, a young lady named Lou Ann Sherman was my secretary in the Division of Agriculture and after three years she got me oriented and kept me out of trouble and then she resigned because she and Jim were starting a family, and so they had two sons, Jim and Steve, and she was a full-time mom and for about 10 years, then came back to the Foundation part time and then full time and then for the last eight years my executive assistant who had been there for a long time retired, and we interviewed people and Lou Ann became my executive assistant until we retired in 1995. Her husband Jim then and Ruth and I had known Jim and Lou Ann for 35 years, Jim retired. He was in the printing business. Retired in the spring of 1998, retired in April and died in October. And so here then I began to think about who do I know… [laughing]. So Lou Ann and I are about to celebrate our tenth anniversary.

SCARPINO: Well, congratulations.

MAWBY: Well, that’s a little detail of the, not trivia, important aspects of life…

SCARPINO: Absolutely is.

MAWBY: …because she’s been a blessing. For both her and for, Lou Ann and I would say twice blessed. She had a great marriage with 43 years with Jim, and I had 50 years with Ruth. So that off on that little, and so Lou Ann is here down attending one of the good lectures by this former Catholic nun who’s on the program here talking about leadership.

SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you a little bit about your military service.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: You were in the field artillery. You attained the rank of Corporal but I read that you were actually filling a First Lieutenant spot.

MAWBY: [laughing]

SCARPINO: So did you learn anything about leadership in the military?

MAWBY: Sure I did.

SCARPINO: What did you learn?

MAWBY: I learned that I was blessed to have Major Whitney D. Stewart who recognized that Russ Mawby was an unusual PFC [laughing] because I had been teaching, I’d been doing television and so forth. So I was, I went through a fire direction control, and was picked out of the stream to replace instructor positions in fire direction control and then taught the third—let’s see, we had what, eight weeks I guess—and I taught the third week, and then Whitney Stewart promoted me to be responsible for the recruitment of the identification of others to keep the staff and their orientation, re-writing the lesson plans, et cetera, conducting training for the instructors to the extent that he made the commanding general of Camp Chaffee, Fort Chaffee, aware of what was going on in fire direction control, and so I did some things camp-wide which was very unusual for a Corporal. President Eisenhower froze rank or I might have gotten to be a Sergeant.

But Whitney Stewart was just unusual and I became involved. Ruth came down. We spent two years in Arkansas, became active in the church there, and she went to the YWCA. They didn’t have any positions but they would let her teach classes in sewing and tailoring and upholstering and so forth and so she became engaged in teaching, got acquainted with women. I became a member of the Toastmaster’s Club. So we got engaged in the community and Major Stewart said anytime—and local groups would want to invite me to come and speak—and he said you can accept any of those. Just let me know. But he said you’ve got take me to at least two of those speeches. [laughing] So here I am, Corporal Mawby…

SCARPINO: With a Major in tow.

MAWBY: …with a Major, driving off to speak. So it was, again, a lot of my, see I was the oldest going through Fort Knox. I was 25, almost, if I hadn’t gone in October I would have been ineligible in February for draft. And so I was the oldest and the same was true and a lot of the guys that were teaching in fire

direction control just bitched all the time. This is a waste of time. It’s a disgrace. Don’t bother with that. Get acquainted. Go visit Winrock Farm, Winthrop Rockefeller and he had Santa Gertrudis cattle and so we went and got acquainted there. Got acquainted with the extension people in the county. Out of that, got to go to a couple of Razorback football games because they had season tickets. So, two years, great experience, blessed to have a commanding officer who had me in the First Lieutenant’s slot in the manning table responsible for all of the lesson plans, all of the testing, and all of the recruitment, then orientation of new instructors. So it could have been a miserable, but why let it, why waste two years?

SCARPINO: Is that sort of your philosophy of life?

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: Why waste it?

MAWBY: Why waste it? [laughing] And so people say Russ, you’re always optimistic, and I say well, it doesn’t cost any more to be optimistic than pessimistic.

SCARPINO: In the interest of full disclosure I’ll tell you I am a veteran, so I heard some of the bitching.

MAWBY: That’s right. What service were you in?

SCARPINO: Armored Cavalry.


SCARPINO: Armored Cavalry.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: I was a platoon leader in the Armored Cavalry.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: How about the cold war? Did that have any impact on the way you thought about the world or about leadership or philanthropy?

MAWBY: Not necessarily. I don’t think I, you know, really put that into any organized context until in the, with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation we became involved, the Kellogg Foundation became involved in Europe following World War II, interestingly. The European countries, the northern European countries, realized that following the World War I they industrialized and they imported raw materials including food, stagnated their food system dependent on importing food. Couldn’t feed themselves. Didn’t have the capacity. They were still farming in England, let’s say in 1941 the same as they were in the, at the time of World War I. Still using horses. The had gotten out of oxen but they were using horses. There was very little use of tractors.

So the Kellogg Foundation got involved with eight countries of northern Europe concerned with food systems and then with the quality of rural life, particularly for women and for kids. So we became involved in the food systems with advanced study opportunities in this country for people in horticulture, farm crops, soils, ag engineering, livestock, the works, and also with, in food systems and specifically then in areas such as agricultural policy and rural policy development, helped create extension. The difference between the extension service in this country was the university base, and the extension service in Europe was that it was politically based in the ministry of agriculture. So it didn’t have the research base that you had here with the university. So we worked with some of those universities in developing agricultural extension majors, ag communication, and agricultural policy emphases. And then worked on opportunities for women in rural communities, and the brightest organization in the Republic of Ireland, I always thought, was the Irish Country Women’s Association. Whenever they saw a problem and wanted to do something about it they did it. They made it happen and they couldn’t get, they wanted to develop the bed and breakfast opportunities in rural Ireland, but they wanted gardening as a part of that for the family enterprise but UCD wouldn’t let women major in horticulture, in gardening.



SCARPINO: What does UCD stand for?

MAWBY: University College Dublin.

SCARPINO: Okay, all right.

MAWBY: University College Dublin in Cork and so forth. So that they wouldn’t let women major in agriculture. So the Irish Country Women had developed a residential center for women on nutrition, family living, home decorations, and so forth, and so they started a credentialed program in gardening and they could go to the Parliament and get support. The Irish Country Women were just marvelous in what they were doing. So we were very much engaged. So…

SCARPINO: Yeah, but this was before you joined the Foundation, right?

MAWBY: Yeah, but then when I became Director of the Division of Agriculture I inherited all of that. So for the first five years until I became the CEO, that was my major responsibility. Now you have to realize that I never wanted a very narrow job description. [laughing]

SCARPINO: Why doesn’t that surprise me?

MAWBY: And so, and we’ll talk about that in a programmatic sense, but we, two things developed specifically. One, there was the Salzburg Seminar on American Studies. Does that ring a bell at all with you? Salzburg Seminar on American Studies was started by, I’m going to say three, Harvard graduates who had experienced war service in Europe and at the end of the war said the people of Europe and the people of the United States don’t know each other. We don’t know each other. And they set out to create in Salzburg, Austria, in a beautiful old Schloss, a castle. Not a castle literally but a big country estate, a Salzburg Seminar to bring together promising young professionals, particularly in the academic world, and faculty from the United States came over there to teach those good folks about the United States. So we became engaged with them, but we had a little different mindset saying gosh, you know, this ought to be a Salzburg Seminar but the faculty ought to come from worldwide or Europe as well as the U.S. and U.S. students need to learn about Europe as rather as preaching the American gospel. So we became engaged with the Salzburg Seminar.

Simultaneously then, we begin to encourage their bringing to the extent possible people from Eastern Europe, and that varied with country but we’d get students, and students—these usually would be people in their thirties and forties—coming to Salzburg and for some of the issues. Some of the, usually the seminar would be two weeks in duration. It might be education, might be health, it might be environmental, it might be energy, business, and so forth. So we broadened it at first to Eastern Europe, then we had been very much involved as a foundation in Latin America and then starting in 1985 in southern Africa, including the Republic of South Africa. So we got Africa and Latin America in on the Salzburg Seminar as well. So we were not…

SCARPINO: What would you say was the purpose of the Salzburg Seminar?

MAWBY: The purpose is to get acquainted. People need to know people.

SCARPINO: To what end?



MAWBY: The oneness of humanity, globally, over time. The biggest problem in this whole world ain’t energy. [laughing] That’s a big problem. It’s not water, although that’s a bigger problem than food, probably. But food, water, and energy, yeah, but the biggest problem is human relationships, and whether we look at where society in this country is unraveling at the home and family level, or whether we look at the global community, it’s human relationships, and somehow we have to get to know one another better and deal with each other with respect and a sense of responsibility and so on. And we’re learning a lot of exciting things, I think, about acupuncture and some of the Chinese treatment systems, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that we need to engage differently, and so that was the Salzburg seminar, we tried to broaden that, and so that was in a sense we did. The Kellogg Foundation always, they’re changing. Any organization is a consequence of the people who comprise it.


MAWBY: And so organizations change depending upon people. But we were never, during my leadership, we were never, we didn’t have an agenda for society. We were issue-oriented because we couldn’t deal with everything. So you had to have some sense of priority. But we want to be issue-oriented but not prescriptive. So not prescribing what the solution to the issue is, but getting people to focus on the issue. Early childhood development. We don’t have in Battle Creek the audacity to think we can tell how that ought to be accomplished in the barrio outside Mexico City or on southside Chicago or in downtown Detroit but we do know that it’s an issue, and I always use the example if you go to Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior to Alger County in the Upper Peninsula.

SCARPINO: Right. I know where that is.

MAWBY: Okay. K12 system, 75 kids, and if you want to see either a movie or a traffic light you have to drive 100 miles to Marquette. Okay, that’s rural, and daycare for kids, infants, early childhood, is an issue there. But the solution in Grand Marais is sure different than it is in Center City, Detroit and the community has to, so we could be issue-oriented and there are certain principles then that you try to make people aware of the application of knowledge. You want them to have the best knowledge resources to mobilize, but you don’t prescribe the recipe for dealing with the issue.

So that our engagement then with Salzburg would be to bring people together where the issue—let’s say maternal health or early childhood development or agricultural food policy, rural water policy, all of those issues—the issue, but you bring the perspectives of the expertise from wherever that expertise exists rather than prescribing what the solution is to the water issue, you get people, knowledgeable people, engaged in dealing with those issues.

SCARPINO: So you’re in the business of issues, application of knowledge, and human relations.

MAWBY: That’s right. Mm hmm. That’s right.

SCARPINO: And that’s what you were promoting as CEO at Kellogg.

MAWBY: That’s right. Consistently.

SCARPINO: I’m going to back up a minute here.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: 1956, at the age of 28, you were named Assistant Director of Michigan State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, which seemed like a pretty significant position for such a young man. How did you get it and what did you do?

MAWBY: [laughing] Okay. I returned from Camp Chaffee, Arkansas in October of 1955, yeah, back to my job as an agricultural extension specialist and agricultural economics, and was engaged at that point in this social, I think that was with the social security initiative was a part of my agenda. And in May I got a phone call from the dean. Now this was a little bit unnerving as Dr. Tukey stopping me in the hall and saying would you stop in the office.

SCARPINO: I just want to ask you a clarification question.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Did you have an academic appointment? Were you trying to earn tenure?

MAWBY: I wasn’t worried about tenure. I didn’t even think about tenure.

SCARPINO: OK. All right. Just thought I’d ask.

MAWBY: [laughing] But I did end up as a full professor before I left.

SCARPINO: Yes. I knew you did, that’s right, yes.

MAWBY: Yeah, but I wasn’t, I…

SCARPINO: So you got a call from the dean.

MAWBY: I got a call from the dean saying the dean would like you to come see him. So I went up and went over to the appointment and the Director of Extension was a rural sociologist named Paul A. Miller and I’d gotten to know Paul Miller when I was hosting either Country Crossroads or Rural Roundup because he was an extension specialist in rural sociology, and then he became extension director and went on to be provost at Michigan State, President at the University, West Virginia University, Under Secretary for Education when it was Health, Education and Welfare and then President of Rochester Institute of Technology and is now 94 years old and I talk with him about every two months now.

Anyway, Paul Miller and the dean said Russ, the dean said, Paul has a crazy idea of this—you had to know the person—that, and he said, and I concur with his recommendation that you become the Assistant Director of Extension responsible for youth programming and he said we’ve been across the street to President John Hannah was the incredible president of Michigan State starting in 1942 and capitalizing on the post-war period and so forth. Just a remarkable chicken farmer, poultry, his first academic appointment was the extension specialist in poultry science, John Hannah, before he became, anyway, and he said President Hannah agrees we want you to become Assistant Director of Extension for Youth Programs and he said that, President, that Dean Cowden said that I argued with Paul and said gosh you haven’t had much experience administratively, and Paul said that doesn’t make any difference. He said if you want the best 4-H program in the United States five years from now, follow my recommendation. [laughing] And so I became Assistant Director of Extension. Followed a marvelous man named A. G. Kettunen. Kett was Finnish extraction from the Upper Peninsula. His parents had come from Finland and Kett was a marvelous leader, pioneer, did a lot of things in extension and had been state leader I think 27 years or something and I became his successor.

SCARPINO: Did you create the best 4-H program in the United States?

MAWBY: By some people’s judgment, yeah. Worked at it and made substantial changes, but again went back to the basic principles and the concepts which characterizes the, interesting, but it was Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work before the 4-H emblem became, extension service was institutionalized in 1914. Smith-Lever Act was the…


MAWBY: Okay. And it was Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work until the 4-H emblem came about in 1918 or ’19, something like that. Anyway, Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work Bulletin Number One said the purposes of 4-H, the first purpose is to strengthen the schools at their weakest point. That was the audacity of, printed in 1914 of 4-H Club Work. Why? It was all started by rural school teachers who were concerned that McGuffey’s Reader wasn’t really preparing boys to be farmers and girls to be farm wives, to be engaged in the, and the whole profession of home economics started in colleges of agriculture because the first was the vitality of the profitability of the farm enterprise, but then the quality of family life, and so at most land grant universities it was the college of agriculture and home economics until they moved on.

And so I, it was started then by the practical applications of what you do in the classroom with what you do with homemaking skills and farming skills and so forth and a lot of the new technology, for example, hybrid corn. Now you, you know, you’ve been growing corn all your life and you know you pick the best ears and you plant it. So your kid comes home with this crazy idea the county agent wants you to plant some hybrid corn, and you say that’s a crazy idea but yeah, you can handle this a little bit. Well after about three years you see that that corn’s doing better than your corn and that’s the way you move…

SCARPINO: The kid’s corn is doing better than Dad’s.

MAWBY: So that was the simple notion. So we worked on some of those principles. I tried to engage more of the university than simply the College of Agriculture and College of Home Economics. College of Education, obviously, tried to link into Natural Sciences, tried to link into Sociology, et cetera. So that, make it truly the only university-based youth program dependent upon volunteer leadership. Now you had a professional staff, you had a professional staff, but the quality of the members’ experiences depended upon that man, that woman, who’s the volunteer leader and they’re teaching things in addition to the skills and so forth of baking and sewing and all the rest, gardening, live stock production and so forth, teaching parliamentary procedure, operated the club. My first lessons as parliamentary procedure was 4-H Club work because you had officers and you had a president and you had a vice president and you had a social chairman and you had committees and reports and so that the, while then you want to stretch the experience for the kid and the adults from the local club and that you do with county-wide events and regional and 4-H Club Week in the dormitories on campus and so forth but you really have to continue to nurture and elevate the skill and the competence of the volunteer leaders.

SCARPINO: So that emphasis on youth and nurturing and developing volunteer leaders is something that stayed with you.

MAWBY: You bet. Sure did. And then, I probably mentioned one of the things that in, see I was State 4-H Club leader—that’s what everybody called it, not the official organizational chart—State 4-H Club Leader for eight years. Was the creation of Kettunen Center named for my predecessor, which is a first class conference center up near, just south of Cadillac.

SCARPINO: I’m going to do the transcriber a favor here.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: It’s K e t t u n e n.

MAWBY: K e t t u n e n, Kettunen.

SCARPINO: Okay, she’ll be grateful.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: So you created Kettunen Center.

MAWBY: Kettunen Center, yeah, and because we had created a Michigan 4-H Foundation as the non-profit philanthropic arm of the extension youth program.

SCARPINO: But that gave you some experience with non-profits.

MAWBY: Sure it did. You bet. Along with Boy Scouts and a few other things. Anyway, created it originally because Kett was an outdoor enthusiast, it started as Camp Kett but it was really a misnomer because we didn’t need another camping program for 10 and 12 and 14-year olds. We needed a facility for adults and then what we called junior leaders, which high school age, and that because of my notion and we’ve got to give kids more opportunity to assume responsibility and make a contribution as well as be the beneficiary of an initiative, so we, a major emphasis on junior leaders and their training and their role in programming as well. So Kettunen Center is now a very modern facility and has made a tremendous difference. It was dedicated around 1962, something like that.

SCARPINO: Now you also adapted 4-H to urban settings.

MAWBY: Yeah. Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: Whatever possessed you to do that? That seemed like a pretty bold break with the past.

MAWBY: Yeah, well, break with the past, but that again a lot of the lessons, see we had 4-H electrical projects. We had woodworking projects. That doesn’t require a cow. [laughing]

SCARPINO: I made a lamp in 4-H.


SCARPINO: I made a lamp in 4-H.

MAWBY: You did?


MAWBY: Well good for you. I hope it worked. [laughing]

SCARPINO: Yes. It did. It was ugly but it worked.

MAWBY: Where were you a 4-H member?

SCARPINO: Connecticut.


SCARPINO: Connecticut.

MAWBY: Connecticut. Sure enough!


MAWBY: Yeah, and so, but the whole concept. Now it’s been difficult. The biggest difficult in the so-called vulnerable neighborhoods and communities is getting adult leaders and it’s tough. But the lessons of parliamentary procedure, group decision, sense of responsibility beyond self, community improvement projects, and so forth is as valid in the urban setting as in rural. We also did experiment with a television 4-H Club program, and in the…

SCARPINO: So you were back on TV.


SCARPINO: You were back on television.

MAWBY: On TV using modern technology, but then tried to get kids engaged but then wanted the group experience, and so then tried to move from just the TV, the skill learning with the club experience as well. So that was a part of the agenda. We started in, we had never brought volunteer leaders from throughout the state together so I started this on July 1 of 1956, the state 4-H Leader. We held our first state 4-H Leader meet in February or March of 1957. Brought leaders together from all 83 counties and that began, you see, to change again, the concept of volunteer leaders. They’re serving on county 4-H councils, the regional 4-H councils, state 4-H council, different network, a different potential. So that was a deliberate part of the strategy. Another part of the strategy was to try to professionalize the position of the 4-H youth worker because typically it started, you know, you start as a 4-H agent and then you graduate to become an agricultural agent and we wanted to change that.

SCARPINO: You earned your Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1959.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: While you were on the job there.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: And you received a call from the Kellogg Foundation in 1964.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Do you want to take a break before we talk about the Kellogg Foundation?

MAWBY: No. That’s fine.


MAWBY: Are you comfortable?

SCARPINO: No, I am. I just was…


SCARPINO: December of 1964, the Director of the Division of Agriculture at the Kellogg Foundation gave you a call and what was your first response?

MAWBY: That’s Glen. His name was Glenwood Creech and his secretary was Lou Ann Sherman. I didn’t know her at that time. I had gotten to know Glenwood Creech because of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation had funded through the land grant association, the National Agricultural Extension Center for Advanced Study located at the University of Wisconsin. Now, this was a creation, you see this was a matter of principle here, this wasn’t, the Kellogg Foundation didn’t create something at the University of Wisconsin. The National Association of Land Grant Universities (NASULGC), had the extension organization, ECOP, the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, extension directors, home economics, agriculture, 4-H, and they had wanted to have an advance study center, and they held, the association, the leadership designed it. Kellogg—this was before I was involved—helped create it. They put out a request and Cornell and Iowa State and Wisconsin and a few others and Wisconsin was selected, and then I’d become engaged a little bit in that because 4-H wasn’t in it, and we’d never held a professional meeting, a professional meeting of the state 4-H Club leaders to talk about youth development and what are the challenges, urban, et cetera, et cetera. So I took the initiative of…

SCARPINO: You facilitated that first meeting.

MAWBY: That first meeting.

SCARPINO: Yes, yes.

MAWBY: At the University of Wisconsin, probably in the summer of, well about 1964, yeah, and through that got acquainted with Glenwood Creech at the Kellogg Foundation. So Glen called. Said Russ, I’ve decided to go back to the University of Kentucky, my alma mater, and so I’ll be leaving the Kellogg Foundation and Dr. Morris…


MAWBY: Hmm? The CEO. Dr. Morris would like to have you come down and we’d visit with you about this opportunity and I said gee, Glen, I’m flattered that you’d think of that, said I, you know, I’m not looking for a job. I’ve got so many things on my agenda here, just excited with what’s happening. I said you know I may hope some day to be an extension director, might even be a dean sometime. I don’t know, probably academic future, and I don’t know that it would be fair for me to come down under, I ain’t looking for a job. He said I know that, but why don’t you come down [laughing] and so I went down, had lunch with, not with Glen, but with Emory Morris and with his Dr. Philip Blackerby who was his assistant associate, and started [laughing] as Director of the Division of Agriculture. Officially I had two dates. I, it was December 1, 1964, Director of the Division of Agriculture, and why? Well, just intrigued with the concept that Dr. Morris outlined, what the foundation was doing, how the prospects were for growth in his judgment, challenges, and talked about what’s the definition of agriculture. I asked, what is agriculture? Health, education, what’s agriculture?

Well, it’s really concerned with human nutrition because agriculture is the source of foodstuffs and the orientation was not with the total economy. One of the questions we got into is forestry. The Kellogg Foundation is concerned, it’s not food per se, it’s rural economy, but so we talked about that, we talked about rural poverty, and so based on that and I’d say quite naively, I didn’t appreciate the fact that Dr. Morris was older than I was [laughing] and why I didn’t pay any attention but, I didn’t think about it, I just thought about, gee, this is exciting. They’re working in Latin America. They’re working in Europe.

SCARPINO: So you didn’t have any sense that you might be groomed here for something greater.

MAWBY: No, not at all. That wasn’t, and in fact Dr. Morris, you see, how did this come about? Dr. Morris was a good friend of John Hannah. Because of certain aspects of the relationship in which Mr. Kellogg had helped Michigan State University create the W. K. Kellogg biological station at Gull Lake and then Mr. Kellogg’s summer home became a part of this and so forth. So Emory Morris and John Hannah became personal friends as well as professional colleagues. So I think that, you know, Emory said, John, I need somebody to head up, Glen Creech is leaving us, can you give me two or three names? I never got a good answer. Didn’t press for an answer. I don’t think they interviewed anyone but me. And, but it grew out of that contact with John Hannah and Emory Morris.

So I started as Director of the Division of Agriculture. A year later the head of, we had seven program divisions—public health and medicine, dentistry, nursing, hospital administration, education, agriculture, and Latin American programs, and so the head of education left, so I was named then vice president for agriculture and education, and then a year later I was named vice president for all programs to work with Dr. Morris.

SCARPINO: All seven program areas?

MAWBY: Yeah. That’s right. All seven program areas. And Dr. Blackerby, it’s interesting, Emory Morris was a dentist by profession, and Dr. Blackerby was a dentist by profession, and he was lined up to be the successor for Emory, and then, but he was a great number two man but couldn’t take the number one slot. So in February, January and February of 1970, Phil and Clara Mae went for a month’s vacation in Arizona to try to cope with the problem that he was to become the CEO, because Emory was going to retire, age-wise, in the end of August and he came back, this I learned afterwards, came back and said Emory, I just can’t, and he said when you’re gone and I, Emory was having health problems, spending more time and everything, he said I’m just a basket case just getting ready for a board meeting. He said I can’t do it, and he said I just can’t become number one. So that’s when, to my amazement, everybody else’s astonishment, I guess, I became the CEO in 1970.

SCARPINO: While you were Director of the Division of Agriculture, you, we started to talk about this, you were working on food systems and rural community development—United States, Latin America, Northern Europe—and I read that you started a program of farm and agricultural leadership.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Can you talk a little bit about that?

MAWBY: Yeah, well, you see, here I was, I was Assistant Director of Extension for Youth Programs, and Paul Miller who made me this, was still Director of Extension and the big problem with funding of extension of the county, the extension service was funded by the federal government, state government, county government, and the county government provided office spaces and secretarial support, mileage, and some things and so forth, but they got involved in some support for salary, and gee, you know, these faculty members at Michigan State were the highest paid people in the courthouse, and farmers were uncomfortable with that very often, you know, and so Paul was concerned as a sociologist, we need to develop a different mindset in agricultural leadership. Agriculture is a growing business. It’s the second largest at that point. Manufacturing was number one, agriculture number two, still was, and we need somehow to create a cadre of farm leaders that have a little different perspective, and so Paul asked me, I was here—I wasn’t thinking about going to Kellogg—and two others and we designed a program called The Farmer Study Program that was not concerned with agricultural technology at all. It was concerned with the changing rule of farming and agriculture in an urbanizing society, whereas legislature, everything had been a strong presence of agriculture, that was decreasing, decreasing, decreasing and so the first was to become acquainted with Michigan, the second was to become acquainted with America, and the third year was global.

And this was to take young people, basically men at that point, who were going to be the next generation farmers, young people who by all estimates would be the successor in this farm family, they’re probably in their thirties, they’re probably married, they were in a partnership with Dad, and to get them time off to come to, to learn about Michigan and they would come to Lansing, for example, for seminars. They didn’t go to the Department of Agriculture. They went to the Department of Public Health and of Transportation and of Corrections and of Education and all of those aspects. They visited the Upper Peninsula which is the Appalachia of Michigan. They went to Detroit and they spent time in the emergency room of a hospital. They went to a union hall. They had a certain image of what union leaders are like, you know, and they got acquainted. Well these guys are just like we are. And so, anyway…

SCARPINO: That’s about human relations again.

MAWBY: In fact, back to human. Get to know you. And so we designed the program and submitted it to the Kellogg Foundation and didn’t get any answer. Well, six months later I was at the Kellogg Foundation [laughing] and we funded the Kellogg Farmer Study Program and used it as a pilot then. We then went…

SCARPINO: So you basically funded your own idea.

MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. If you can’t lick them, join them. And but then we replicated that in Pennsylvania, Montana, and California, then spread it to the state of Washington, and then held a meeting, invited all land grand universities including the 1890 institutions as well as the original 1863 institutions to come to a meeting in Spokane, Washington, and helped them start it and 37 states still carry on that Farmer Study Program. They’ve changed the format, the details a little bit. But the goal was to look at agriculture’s changing role. You’ve got to be a part of a different set of networks and contacts and so forth. The same was true looking at the national level and the same was true, and still is, looking at the global picture. So that started that agricultural leadership emphasis.

Now interestingly, you see then we began to look at rural poverty and before I came, the foundation had been involved in the Eastern Kentucky, EKRDP, Eastern Kentucky Rural Development Program at the University of Kentucky, Appalachia, and a lot of the lessons there had been useful to Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, rural poverty. We had an advisory committee in agriculture and Ted Schultz who was a Nobel, yeah, in economics, for his study on the social, the returns to society of investments in higher education. You know, and all those arguments about that’s just a waste of money and that you could look at it’s the best investment. Ted Schultz was a member of my advisory group, and he said if you want to look at African-American rural blacks look at the public, traditionally black institutions. The foundations have been involved with the private, the Spelmans and so forth, but virtually no involvement with the public institutions. So, again working with Emory Morris in my first year and with the, ended up inviting myself to seven of the 1890 institutions—North Carolina A&T, Florida A&M, Fort Valley, Alcorn.

SCARPINO: All public, majority black.

MAWBY: All public, yeah, and traditionally black, and civil rights ’65. Now, you see, they had been really just training people for the segregated school systems. Teachers for the segregated schools and extension workers for segregated extension systems, and a few of their graduates went on to the professions. But North Carolina A&T wanted to get its College of Engineering accredited, and so I visited with, I would go to the campus, talk with them about what, where they saw their strengths, what they really saw as the opportunity they wanted to concentrate on and arranged then to send some of their young faculty for advanced study, doctors degrees, and at their study center to get a linkage then, if they were in engineering, with the University of Michigan to establish a relationship then between that department back to North Carolina A&T, visiting professors, etc. and then scholarships for undergraduates because you see most blacks weren’t thinking that they could go into business or library science or pharmacy or so, engineer. So that started a major initiative for the Kellogg Foundation with the public traditionally black institutions starting with departmental emphases, each of these, and that was, talk about a life learning experience for me, you see. Sure, I had a few black classmates and so forth.

SCARPINO: Well, I was going to ask you because of the emphasis that you put on civil rights and inclusiveness, you’re a young man who grew up in rural Michigan.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: I am imagining that as a young man you maybe didn’t even see any African-American people.

MAWBY: No, none, certainly not before high school. Creston High School in Grand Rapids had a few blacks but not very many of them.

SCARPINO: What attracted you to this idea of inclusiveness and diversity in the sixties?

MAWBY: Well, just the fact that pretty obvious all evidence was that these kids didn’t have the same opportunity I had, and that we as a society need to be concerned about that and provide opportunities, and just an eye-opening experience is to go on those campuses. I’d be, you know, most of them had a few white students. Most of them had a few non-black faculty, but all sorts of horror stories about discrimination. You know, you’d have dinner with a half a dozen faculty members or the dean of, Dean Mayberry, Tuskegee University, talking about the experience how—this was in 1965—when you travel, you know, how do you decide where you can stop to get gas? One of the most experiences, just vivid experience, I was there for the, for Farmer’s Day and I had asked Dean Bennie Mayberry to, Mayberry, Mayberry, he said what experiences would you like? I said two things. I want to visit a rural elementary school, and I’d like to visit two or three of these homes that are so picturesque, you know, sitting on little stilts and picturesque, but I said it must be poverty. So we visited those homes and we visited the schools and then they had Farmer’s Day, and Bennie was getting very concerned because attendance was greater than it had been, and anticipated taking them longer to get through the lunch line and then we were having a big program, they were having a program in the gymnasium.

SCARPINO: Yeah, this was a segregated Farmer’s Day?


SCARPINO: This was a segregated Farmer’s Day.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: Blacks only.

MAWBY: Yeah, this was segregated, yeah, at Tuskegee. But he was getting concerned and I said gee, Bennie, why are you concerned? None of these folks have chores to do. They don’t have dairy herds. They don’t have cows to get milked. Why are you concerned? He said that’s not the problem. I have to get my people home before dusk because dusk is when things happen. You know, I think, ah, you know, because one of the most vivid experiences for a lot of our Kellogg farmers was in Detroit. We made one-on-one arrangements for them to go home and have dinner with a black family, and it was interesting, every one of those, I think virtually every one of those instances they invited that family to come to the farm up in wherever it was, in Sanilac County up in the Thumb or wherever, and established a different relationship than they had ever had as a farm family.

So, that was an eye-opening experience for them and this was an eye-opening experience with me sitting and, you know talking about how do you travel, what gas stations can you be sure that you won’t have trouble, where do you get a room even though it’s no longer segregated, and so forth. Fascinating experiences. So those all make a difference.

SCARPINO: And you were doing this while you were Director of the Agricultural Division.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: So you took some license with your portfolio.

MAWBY: Yeah, but I didn’t surprise Emory Morris or the board of trustees because of rural poverty and the opportunity for most of them was not going to be in farming and that wasn’t their aspiration. Their aspiration is to get off the farm, by and large. But, yeah, and so that’s in all and you’d find that in my style in working with program people was always that, yeah, there are certain areas that the board, we were concentrating on some things but, you know, don’t be constrained.

I could say candidly, we had a very old, we had very senior trustees on the Kellogg Foundation when I became the CEO. Wonderful men, visionary, concerned, engaged, very supportive. Never, if you’ve developed the case thoughtfully and realistically, pragmatically, never had a problem with turndown. Saying we need to be supportive of these institutions in broadening their perspective. And so then we moved from the department level to encouraging opportunities for broadening experiences for presidents, provosts, and financial managers. Now most of those institutions, of course, reported to an all-white politically appointed board of trustees. Tough, you know. I still remember at Alcorn. Alcorn, that’s Mississippi.


MAWBY: Picturesque campus, the old buildings, started by a church well-intentioned at the end of slavery. The president literally opening mail to see what was happening, faculty, et cetera, simply because he was intimidated completely by a board of trustees.

SCARPINO: So he was basically spying on his own faculty.

MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. Had to. Yeah. So it was a fantastic experience.

SCARPINO: What impact do you think you had in the south, particularly with those southern majority black colleges?

MAWBY: I think we made a real difference. The Land Grant Association had a regional office in Atlanta and Herman Smith was the African, the black who was in charge of that office. I became a good friend of Herman. Went and talked with him about the idea. What are the issues Herman? How can we help? We don’t have an agenda. What do these institutions need? They needed to strengthen faculty. They needed the opportunity for young faculty to get more training, et cetera, and so I think we helped to give them hope. The situation was different depending upon state and who was, who the people were, whether they were redneck or whether they were more enlightened, you know. Just the realities and I think we gave hope and we did not want to dictate anything. We wanted to be responsive to, but we wanted to be, we wanted to engage because we had some experience and we could open some doors that they couldn’t open simply because we’re the Kellogg Foundation, et cetera. So responsibly you can give them some opportunity that previously might not have been available to them individually as institutions.

SCARPINO: Can you give me an example of a door you were able to open?

MAWBY: Oh, sure. One of them, fund development, getting private resources, and now, there was a genius who was at the University of Michigan. His name doesn’t come to me right now. But anyway, we got him engaged with Tuskegee and he had this expertise and became a pro bono consultant to the University of, to Tuskegee University on fundraising, re-thinking about how they structured their fundraising. Tuskegee was really a hybrid because it, Huntsville, Alabama A&M was the 1890 institution. Tuskegee of course was a private institution with public support. And so it was a, and it was treated as a member of the Land Grant Association.

So, but we were able then to help them begin to think differently by engaging resources and we, of course, had a lot of experience with Latin American Fellows in which we started in 1940 in the health professions and we would identify what, and this was again before me, the wisdom of earlier minds. They didn’t make a grant to you as a young faculty member in the faculty of medicine. They made a grant to the faculty of medicine to create, let’s say a specialty in pediatrics or cardiology or whatever and then the university at Bogota selected you to be the recipient to go to, let’s say, the University of Michigan to study pediatrics and we could help them make your placement at the University of Michigan. Get you identified with the right faculty advisor, get that faculty person interested enough so that your research is done back in Bogota, get him to go down there or her to go down there and become engaged, helping you then implement the curriculum and so forth.

So you’ve got institutional engagement as well as simply sending off and because it was a, the faculty there knew exactly what your task was. Your task is to go to Ann Arbor and get training to come back to create this major and you knew that, and the faculty there knew that, Ann Arbor knew that and it happened and brain drain was virtually zero. The experience with USAID was we give you a scholarship, fellowship, you go to the University of Michigan, you don’t want to go back to Bogota.

SCARPINO: That was the federal program?

MAWBY: Yeah. The federal program.

SCARPINO: So you applied that model to these colleges?

MAWBY: We had that, the Foundation had that experience very successfully in nursing and dentistry and public health and medicine and in agriculture, and so we were able to follow that same pattern of getting a linkage between the college of business or the college of medicine or the college of engineering so that there was some continuing relationship.

SCARPINO: Now when you became the CEO at the Kellogg Foundation, you became involved with South Africa, and I’m going to talk to you about that later on.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: But did your experience in the south with segregation and discrimination influence the way you looked at South Africa?

MAWBY: Oh, sure.

SCARPINO: Is there a connection there?

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: I want to spend more, probably tomorrow, we’ll talk about that.

MAWBY: Oh, sure. No question. You see as you get acquainted with people and yeah, all of those experiences and in fact my staff used to kid me about, they’d say there’s only one way to go to Chicago, you know, get on I94 and go to Chicago. I’d say no, that’s not the right way to go to Chicago. If you want to really know what’s going on in Michigan and know what is going on in Chicago you get off and you stop and have lunch in Berrien Springs.

SCARPINO: Now you did the same thing though in the office when you were CEO when you were going to lunch.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: You’d stop and talk to people and then go around the corner and talk to the secretary instead of taking the fast way to the food line.

MAWBY: Yeah, sure. Engage with people.

SCARPINO: 1970 you became CEO at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and served in that role until 1995 and we talked about Emory Morris who you replaced and he had been CEO since 1943.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: People have a tradition of serving a very long time in that role of Chief Executive Officer.

MAWBY: They did then.

SCARPINO: At the Kellogg Foundation.

MAWBY: There were two of us—Emory Morris and Russ Mawby.

SCARPINO: Just for the sake of people who listen to this recording or read the transcription, I’m going to put a couple of lines of information into the record here.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: In 1970 when you started as CEO, the Foundation had assets of about 364 million.

MAWBY: Uh huh.

SCARPINO: By the middle of 1992, those assets had climbed to 6.45 billion which put you…

MAWBY: I always say a thousand million.


MAWBY: Billion, you see a billion is a thousand million, I think.

SCARPINO: It is. That’s right.

MAWBY: And that sounds to me like more money.

SCARPINO: But that put you second in terms of assets behind the Ford Foundation.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: And then, so that basically under your leadership, Kellogg had become the second largest foundation in the world in terms of assets. 1993 there was a stock market crash and the assets contracted to five billion. [laughing]

MAWBY: That’s still five thousand million.

SCARPINO: That’s right, and then you retired in 1994 still with the number two ranking in the world in terms of assets.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: In your final year as CEO the Kellogg Foundation spent 270 million dollars, most of that in the form of grants, which was the majority of what the total assets had been when you started.

MAWBY: That’s right. Simplistically, you know, I’ve always said that when I started with the foundation my first year which would have been fiscal ’65, the Foundation spent about 12 million dollars, or about a million dollars a month. When I retired, we were spending a million dollars a working day.

SCARPINO: That was more than just inflation wasn’t it?


SCARPINO: It was more than just inflation.

MAWBY: You bet it was. It was real stuff. Yep.

SCARPINO: Well, you know that I spoke to six of your colleagues, and every one of them suggested in one way or another that I ask you the same question. So I’m going to ask you.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: All right, now, they used slightly different words and here’s the question. How did a kid who grew up on an apple farm or an apple orchard with the goal of becoming a horticulturalist end up as CEO of the second largest foundation in the world? How did you find your way from there to there?

MAWBY: Yeah. [laughing] And my answer is always—good luck. I was just good luck.

SCARPINO: [laughing] You know, Russ, I think you made your own good luck, but that’s…

MAWBY: Well, a little bit. You see, Emory Morris continued as the chair of the board until his death in July of 1974. So he continued, but his health was very poor. He had emphysema and so forth. And I, yeah, I’d say that, that I worked hard at certain things. One, I was concerned with being a good steward of that which Mr. Kellogg envisioned and made possible, concerned with his vision, with his values. Not in, I never saw them as a constrictive sense. But they were good pillars upon which to base programs, structure, and reflected his vision. He never had his agenda for society. Some philanthropists have.

SCARPINO: They do, that’s right.

MAWBY: This is what I want to make happen. He said I want to help people help themselves, accomplish things important to them in ways appropriate for them, through the application of knowledge and other resources to improve the quality of their life and of their generation and future generations.

SCARPINO: And that was a philosophy, though, that kind of meshed with your world view.

MAWBY: Mine too.


MAWBY: And so I was concerned with being true to that vision but I didn’t see it as constraining. I didn’t see it as negative. I didn’t have a, I didn’t have the personal feeling that I was smart enough to dictate what ought to be happening everywhere, but I felt I could mobilize people who were smarter [laughing], that had experience, had talent, had the capacity to make things happen.

SCARPINO: Is that the mark of a good leader, to be able to find the people with talent and intelligence and initiative?

MAWBY: I think so. Yeah, and the toughest choice in grant making is identifying the grantee, and that I was always concerned with, whenever working on an idea, an institution, who’s going to make it happen. Where is the leadership? And so the boilerplate which comes out of the development office isn’t adequate. Who in that department or who in that has the vision about this issue that something is likely to happen, and so it’s identifying people with, you know, who have some expertise, who have some ability, obviously, to make things happen and that what you do is give them, then, some capacity to move ahead.

One of the interesting questions I’d like to, I used to ask, for example, say okay, Phil that’s a wonderful idea. But gee, you know, Kellogg can’t do everything. We have limited resources. Suppose we can’t do anything. What’s going to happen to this bright idea? And if you say well, if Kellogg doesn’t help, it will never happen. I’d say to myself, I wouldn’t say particularly, I’d say well, he really don’t really mean this, does he? He means it if he can get money out of this source. If you say on the other hand, I’m the president of this institution and this is what we’ve got to have happen and if you can help us we’d sure love it but we’re going to make it happen one way or the another. Then that’s real commitment, and you don’t, so that if there’s any genius in the leadership, my trick was always to try to stimulate our program people to know where the doers really are. What are the issues that nursing as a profession ought to be addressing and who’s really working on those things?

SCARPINO: You were a doer yourself, weren’t you?

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: Yeah. You know as I listen to you talk this morning and as I talked to your colleagues and read the background material, it seemed to me that, almost from the time you were a teenager there was always somebody who recognized the talent that you had and nurtured it.

MAWBY: Yeah, they always did.

SCARPINO: The major in the military to the dean up there at MSU.

MAWBY: Yeah, just amazing.

SCARPINO: When you became CEO at Kellogg, you kind of passed it on, didn’t you?

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: You turned around and looked for talent.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: People mentored you and you mentored other people.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: Do you think that that’s a mark of leadership is to mentor people?

MAWBY: Sure. I do. Yeah. And to give encouragement and to give, see one of the inclinations in philanthropy was to set up too much bureaucracy, and I always, you know, wanted the, most great initiatives on a campus by a committee, you may have to have a committee to make it happen but somebody [laughing] is, has got the spirit, it’s going to happen.

SCARPINO: And that’s what you looked for.

MAWBY: That’s what I looked for.

SCARPINO: Was the spirit in the person that would make it happen.

MAWBY: That’s right. But you also, you see the whole, the Kellogg National Fellowship Program, are you…?

SCARPINO: We’ll talk about that next time.

MAWBY: But you see, it’s based upon one simple premise really, that we have, as a society, we have to benefit from superb specialization, specialization, specialization, but no significant problem in society can be addressed by a specialty. It’s the mobilizing of the multiple specialists, specialties, that are necessary, so the idea of the Kellogg National Program is to take bright, young people who already have some credentials and some capacity in an area of expertise, but then to equip them to understand that they can’t get the job done alone. They’ve got to mobilize people in other specialties to make it happen, and to get them into that mindset of moving beyond. Continue to be expert in your specialty but mobilize the other resources that are necessary to do the task.

SCARPINO: Was that your idea? That Kellogg Fellowship Program?

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: I mean, it sounds like you.

MAWBY: I don’t usually say that to people. Sure. No, and what I do say, we’ll talk about, we were coming up to the fiftieth anniversary, and I was concerned with doing something distinctive.

SCARPINO: That’s the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation?

MAWBY: Of the Kellogg Foundation in 1980, and I was in, see I’d been around for a decade then as CEO, and the real problem was that we’ve got these bright, young people with, but they, and they identify the problem, they articulate the problem beautifully and then their proposal of what they’re going to do about it is inadequate to the task, inadequate both conceptually in terms of the intellectual resources you’ve got to mobilize, but also inadequate in terms of what it’s going to cost. So they underestimate, they just come with a little piece of the picture. And so, as was the proposal that we would identify a cadre of about 50 bright young women and men who’ve already demonstrated some competence in their field, whether it’s theology or economics or neurosurgery or whatever, they’re doing things. But then to provide them a set of experiences with a mixture of the 50 so that you’ve got all of that interaction within the 50 because you’re going to have nuclear physicists and you’re going to have psychologists and all the rest, kind of conversations you’ve never had before because you’ve always been dealing with your particular area of concentration. And then you have to engage in a specific study task, but it can’t be related to your specialty, and so you’ve always been interested in classical music. Okay. That’s fine, that’s legitimate, whatever, and so that, so we sold it on the basis, okay, we’ll start with one and if we can’t make it work, that’ll just have been a nice celebration of the fiftieth anniversary. We had one group and that was that. Well it went on for 18 years. Yeah, but it was, yeah, and you know, I would never say that that was Russ Mawby’s idea.

SCARPINO: But it was.

MAWBY: But it tended to happen over lunch. It happened over breakfast with trustees, and so we were all excited and all engaged.

SCARPINO: Russ, we’ve been talking for almost two hours and 15 minutes.

MAWBY: Have we? Already?

SCARPINO: So I think that I’m going to take mercy on you here, and to tell you that when we get together next time I’m going to start by asking you to explain the significance of the 1969 tax reform act…

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: …on the Kellogg Foundation, the Kellogg Company, and on your working with congress to reshape that act a little bit for some of the older foundations.

MAWBY: And why did we create the Council of Michigan Foundation?

SCARPINO: Yes, and all that.

MAWBY: And why did we say that that’s not enough? We’ve got to create the Michigan non-profit association. That’s the story.

SCARPINO: What I’m thinking is that that tax reform act sort of becomes the lynchpin to talk about several other things.

MAWBY: Sure. It really does. Wonderful. You’ve done a lot of homework. I sense that you’ve had some stimulating conversations. Each of these people, you know, and I could talk at length about them, but Dottie Johnson came to the first meeting. We didn’t have a Council of Michigan Foundation, we had a Conference of Michigan Foundation, so we didn’t know we wanted a council and she was a member of the board of trustees of the Grand Haven Community Foundation.

SCARPINO: Yeah. Over on the lake?


SCARPINO: Over on the lake?

MAWBY: Over on the lake, and we ended up needing her as the CEO. She said yes, if the headquarters can be in Grand Haven, because that’s where the family lives and that’s where my kids are going to go to school.

SCARPINO: [laughing] She told me that story.

MAWBY: Yep. I hope I’m, I hope our stories are consistent.

SCARPINO: So, I think I’m going to go ahead and turn this off.

MAWBY: Sure. Yeah. I hope this has been worth what you had in mind.

SCARPINO: Oh, it certainly has, it’s fascinating. I hope that I didn’t keep you sitting here in one place for too long.

MAWBY: Oh no.

SCARPINO: But I’ll shut it off, and thank you.

Part two

Skip to next interview transcript

SCARPINO: I’ve got the main one online and the needle’s bouncing so today is October 29th and I’m interviewing Dr. Russell G. Mawby, Chairman Emeritus, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, at the Annual Meeting of the International Leadership Association in Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second interview with Dr. Mawby. We did the first one on October 28th. So, I would like to ask your permission to record this interview, to have the interview transcribed, and to deposit the interview and the transcription in the IUPUI Archives for the use of their patrons.

MAWBY: I’m pleased indeed to grant permission to proceed.

SCARPINO: When the recorder was off, you handed me an excerpt from a book by Waldemar Nielsen and for the benefit of the transcriber, W a l d e m a r N i e l s e n, who wrote a couple of volumes on foundations, and you were telling me about the contrast between his first volume and his second volume. The first one in 1972, second one came out in 1985.

MAWBY: Yes. Well Mr. Nielsen was a remarkable individual who had a great career in civil service, the state department, in academic world and with the Ford Foundation and a great engagement in a variety of ways, and so, in 1972 he wrote a book called The Big Foundations and included, of course, Midwestern foundations including Kellogg and Kresge and Mott and Lilly. Talked about them but really didn’t do justice, I felt, to the sort of the character of the foundation. Its donor, the founder, W. K. Kellogg, and the foundation he created. And so about 1983, I’d become acquainted with Waldemar Nielsen, became good friends because of his active leadership in the field and he called and said Russ, I’m going to do a revised version of my book. It’s going to be called The Golden Donors and would like to know when you will be in New York or in Washington when I might interview you, and I said Wally, if you’re going to write about the Kellogg Foundation, I’ll never be in New York or Washington for an interview. You’ve got to come to Battle Creek. You’ve got to come in our front door, talk with me, anybody you want to talk to, to capture the character of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. And so he did. He came to Battle Creek. Met with a lot of people including the taxi driver driving him from the airport and…

SCARPINO: There’s a source. [laughing]

MAWBY: And so he came to quite a different impression and so his write-up in that version sort of captured it in a different way, the character of the foundation, commenting both upon Mr. Kellogg and then on Mawby who had the privilege at that point of being the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, but commenting on me and then commenting on the foundation from his overall perspective.

SCARPINO: Now when the recorder was off and we were just chatting before we got started, you read to me a summary paragraph.


SCARPINO: And because he sort of set the record…

MAWBY: Should I read that again?

SCARPINO: I would like you to read that, yes.

MAWBY: All right, very good.

SCARPINO: The summary paragraph where he compares the two books.

MAWBY: Well, about Mawby and then about the foundation?


MAWBY: First he said, “About Will Kellogg, it could be said that what he may have lacked in style he more than made up in substance. The same is true about his foundation and about Mawby. In the more snobby circles of philanthropy he has sometimes been regarded as a somewhat stuffy country cousin, but his record as an administrator and in program matters is impressive. He may indeed be the most impressive foundation head in the business of the understated, underrated foundation head in the business.” So I was pleased with that perspective, of course, from Waldemar Nielsen because I had high regard for him. I did argue with him that I never felt I was a stuffy country cousin, but certainly a country cousin.

SCARPINO: [laughing] You couldn’t get him to retract stuffy.

MAWBY: The final paragraph then in this section of discussing the Kellogg Foundation he said, “A number of the major foundations seem better than they are and they devote considerable effort to maintaining that appearance. Kellogg is the reverse case. It is substantially better than it is generally seen to be. It must be ranked very high among the genuinely creative and productive major American foundations. This author 15 years ago called it an admirable example of a shirtsleeve Midwestern fund working effectively on a range of problems overlooked by most foundations. Now on the basis of its continuing performance and its 50-year record, it stands as the finest large American foundation west of the Atlantic seaboard.” So that’s his summary and I felt that was a tribute, not to me but to our board of trustees and to the staff, and it’s the people who are the foundation that really give it its character and substance and make the difference, and I felt he captured the quality of the work being done by the people who were the foundation at that point in time.

SCARPINO: And that was a good tactic to get him to come to Battle Creek.

MAWBY: That’s right. [laughter] Well, he never would have written it in that way had he not come to Battle Creek and come in the front door as we did with every visitor, because you’re just, knew who would be coming and so forth, greeted by first name and could visit with anyone he wanted to at the Foundation and in Battle Creek.

SCARPINO: And so that book came out in 1985 and it’s called The Golden Donors.

MAWBY:The Golden Donors.

SCARPINO: Okay. You also mentioned while we were chatting and setting up and getting ready that you worked with Waldemar.


SCARPINO: On a subject that was a theme in the history of your work life almost from the beginning, and that’s leadership.

MAWBY: Leadership, yes.

SCARPINO: And you convened a meeting not on the east coast and not on the west coast but in Colorado.

MAWBY: That’s right, because we had a lot of people engaged actively throughout, I’ve called, it’s called the Heartland of America, the Midwest, define it as you will, and there’s, it’s a little different character perhaps than either the east coast or the west. I admire both the leadership and the perspectives provided there, but if you take the foundations in Indianapolis and in Michigan and Colorado and Iowa and so forth, great people, great leadership. And so we began a series, annual meetings of leaders of those foundations—trustees, officers, staff members—meeting in Colorado in a retreat session just to talk. Not to make decisions but to benefit from exchange of ideas respective and very often, of course, that led to collaborative efforts. And some of the most creative work, for example, that the Kellogg Foundation did was with the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis, and so forth, growing out of those informal, non-decision making opportunities.

SCARPINO: Can you give me a couple of examples?

MAWBY: Excuse me?

SCARPINO: Couple of examples?

MAWBY: I think the, some of the work that Kauffman did great work on entrepreneurship and the encouraging of individuals to be entrepreneurs in business, and we benefitted from that because of the economic concerns not only in Michigan but in the Midwest, in the middle of the country. And so some collaborative efforts of Kauffman and Kellogg grew out of that, and our work with the, wonderful work that the Lilly Endowment has done in a variety of ways but particularly in the creation specifically, the Center on Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Indiana University. We were collaborators with Lilly in that major effort and certainly is the premier such center for the, academic center, for the study of philanthropy. It’s the premier institution in the world and makes a great contribution. And from that relationship then we in Michigan had initiated some successful efforts in promoting the concept of the community foundation to make a community foundation available to every community in the state of Michigan and that initiative then was emulated, I think, in Indiana by Lilly benefitting. They varied the approach because Indiana’s different than Michigan.

SCARPINO: But they saw what happened in Michigan.

MAWBY: But they saw what happened in Michigan and followed through. So it’s those kind of informal, non-decision making relationships that are tremendously productive very often.

SCARPINO: What was the timeframe that you called those individuals together?

MAWBY: I suppose we were starting probably in the mid-1980s through the 1990s and some of those sessions, I think, have continued even with the retirement of me and with some of the other leaders who were involved initially.

SCARPINO: Was the idea to call those individuals together for informal sessions your idea?

MAWBY: I suppose a lot of people would say so. I usually don’t worry about getting credit for things. I just like to see things happen and so we talked with Wally, and Wally would you be interested and actually he then became a member of the board of trustees for a period of time.

SCARPINO: Of the Kellogg Foundation?

MAWBY: No, of the Kauffman Foundation. Became engaged and so that it was just out of that personal relationship discussion and led to a very successful annual retreat session. Not to make decisions, not to plan strategy, but just to talk about societal issues and how we can be more effective in helping people deal with their goals.

SCARPINO: And up until that point would it be reasonable for me to conclude that the foundation heads had not talked to each other that way?

MAWBY: Very little because there were just no natural setting in which to do that. There was, of course, and still is, the Council on Foundations at the national level and there you get from all 50 states engaged, but the program there very often was a little different in nature than the kind of informal retreat session we were able to accomplish in a different format.

SCARPINO: You could talk without the press there.

MAWBY: That’s right, and just share ideas very candidly, and not having to be concerned with coming to any closure at the end, any decisions. If things happen, so be it. But that really wasn’t the purpose of the meeting per se.

SCARPINO: When we wrapped up yesterday, both for our benefit and the benefit of anybody who’s just listening to this or reading the transcript, we sort of talked our way through your career as a young man and got you to the point where you had become the CEO at W. K. Kellogg Foundation. We talked a little bit about the growth and assets during the period of your leadership and so on and I said that when I started up again that I was going to ask you about the 1969 Tax Reform Act and I’m going to do that.

MAWBY: All right.

SCARPINO: And I want to start by asking you why did Congress perceive a need to pass the 1969 Tax Reform Act? I mean, what was driving that?

MAWBY: Well, you have to, very briefly, of course I came to the foundation in 1964, was not a senior officer, was not really involved in those kinds of discussions in Washington and so forth as was Dr. Morris, my predecessor. But I think Congress over a period of time, it wasn’t just an instantaneous impulsive reaction. It grew out of long deliberations studies and concern by the Congress appropriately for some of the shortcomings of private initiative for the public good, specifically private foundations. And so this led then to a series of hearings in 1969 leading to the Tax Reform Act being passed almost on New Year’s Eve, I think, as a windup of Congress. And some of the, some of the testimony and so forth had been unfortunate, I think, that came forward. It was, they got things out of perspective and balance, but there were some very important positive components of the Tax Reform Act of ’69 as well as others that caused some of us concerns.

So I became the CEO in the summer really of 1970 and sort of inherited the opportunity of then following through with the Kellogg Foundation engagement. I had not really been involved at the national level with the Council on Foundations or the Foundation Center but became actively engaged very quickly and was immediately concerned that in Michigan we in the foundation world just simply didn’t know each other. There were a lot of foundations. We had been the beneficiaries of some great industrial developments and so you had the foundations created by the auto industry, for example, the success of General Motors and Ford in particular. And we just didn’t know each other. Interestingly, in the fall of 1969, while the hearings were going on, Bill Baldwin was the president of the Kresge Foundation.

SCARPINO: Which is based in Michigan.

MAWBY: And based in Michigan, and the Kresge family and the Kresge Five and Ten Cent store which grew into K-Mart and so forth. But Bill Baldwin was the president, and he had set up an informal meeting over in Rochester inviting foundation leaders in Michigan, probably in September of ’69, just for an update about the discussions that were going on and the importance of the deliberations going on in Washington, and Dr. Morris attended that meeting and invited me to go along as a vice president. So that was my initial contact. So after I became the CEO and sensed that we in Michigan needed to get acquainted, I called Bill Baldwin and said well gee, you did a wonderful job of inviting us together, might I suggest that you convene another meeting now that we have the legislation so that we can deal with it and learn more about it and look at the positives and look at the things which concern us.

SCARPINO: So in Michigan there was Kellogg, Kresge, Mott.

MAWBY: Yes. Ford had moved. They made a mistake. They moved their headquarters to New York City.

SCARPINO: And they were chartered in Michigan.

MAWBY: But they were chartered in Michigan and they still were engaged in Michigan. But the big ones certainly were Kresge, the Mott Foundation, which with General Motors, Kellogg would be the major ones, but we had some community foundations and we had family foundations and we had corporate grant makers. And so I said Bill, you know, would you arrange another meeting? He said no, he said, now I’ve arranged the last one, you can arrange this one [laughing] and so I said fine, I will, and will you come and he said certainly I will. So I took the lead then in identifying about a dozen people from the big foundations in a sense but more importantly community foundations as well, some of the smaller corporate grant-making programs, and family foundations like the Dow family up in Midland with Dow Chemical and the family involved with Whirlpool down in Benton Harbor, and so forth.

SCARPINO: I didn’t realize the Dow family was based in Michigan.

MAWBY: Based in Michigan, yeah. Midland. Oh, yeah, and two great foundations. The Dow Foundation and the Towsley Foundation are both Dow family members and very active, and the dilemma that the Dow family had stayed, the second generation and the third generation in Midland. The fourth generation is everywhere and none of them are in Midland. And so it’s a dilemma now in the transition of that foundation.

So, invited a group to have lunch, about a dozen of us, and we talked about the idea of getting together, not necessarily to form an organization, just to meet, and so that we decided that we would hold a meeting and of course since I had invited folks to lunch they said now Russ you can just be the chair of the planning committee.

SCARPINO: And pay for lunch. [laughing]

MAWBY: Yes, so the first meeting was held and we called it the Conference of Michigan Foundations because we weren’t sure what the next step would be. And we had an attendance of a little over 100 people which was very successful. My first opportunity of meeting a marvelous man, Stanley Kresge. S. S. Kresge was at that meeting, just a delightful man engaged in the Kresge Foundation and so forth.

So we had our first meeting but part of the process then was at each meal, at each table, we had a question, so that by the end of the three day meeting we had reached a conclusion that yes, we would hold another meeting next year. We would out of this meeting appoint a planning committee to plan our meeting next year. Secondly, we would appoint a committee to look at the possibility of forming an organization, an association, and that’s how we moved from the Conference of Michigan Foundations to the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the third was, if we create such an organization how can it be sustained? How can it have the financial resources?

So that was the beginning of what become the Council of Michigan Foundations and in foundation jargon that’s a regional association of grant makers, RAG, so they called themselves RAGS. There are state RAGS and regional RAGS and so forth but it’s an association of grant makers. And the Michigan, Council of Michigan Foundations has been a dynamic force. It’s been a pacesetter in Michigan, constructive leadership and responsible philanthropy, governance, trusteeship, as well as policy issues in the public arena. All we can deal with in policy sense as foundations are things which impact directly upon the affairs of the foundation. We can’t deal with health issues or education and so forth but the Council of Michigan Foundations has been a dynamic leader and has been a very positive player at the national level working with the Council on Foundations on an annual meeting in Washington when foundations from around the country come and meet with members of Congress, not just in crisis, but to keep them informed about the appropriate role of responsible private initiatives for the public good. So the Council of Michigan Foundations was, grew out of that luncheon meeting and has been a

dynamic leader not only in Michigan and positive programming but as a national player.

SCARPINO: Still going strong.

MAWBY: Still going strong. Just held its 32nd or 33rd meeting, something, and it’s just a powerful, very positive, and the thing that happens in Michigan differently than at the national level, it’s very difficult to get great trustee and donor involvement in the national Council on Foundations meetings, but in Michigan we have family members who come regularly and are engaged actively and with their families and with their philanthropy and trustees of the foundations come regularly so that it’s more than just the professionals. It’s the donors themselves who are engaged in the activities of the Council of Michigan Foundations.

SCARPINO: A bit of a training ground for trustees.

MAWBY: Exactly. Yeah, and responsible governance and appropriate accountability, communicating—what do we call it—transparency now. So that everything is done as it should be.

SCARPINO: Trustees and governance are sort of the important activities of foundations without a lot of sex appeal, but they’re really significant to the success of a foundation.

MAWBY: Tremendously, Exactly.

SCARPINO: And I know that you had quite an imprint at Kellogg in both areas in cultivating trustees and in governance.

MAWBY: Exactly. Yeah. And then tried to share that emphasis broadly in Michigan and beyond, the importance of the governance role because it’s there. Any organization is the consequence of the people who comprise it, and you have to have people who, people of high character, people who have been successful in their own lives, whether that’s in business, in volunteering, engagement with the problems of society, et cetera, and are willing to share that in the governance role and so that it’s a tremendously important responsibility and I always called it a privilege. I always described my own situation as having the privilege of being a part of the philanthropy that Mr. Kellogg envisioned.

SCARPINO: Now, most people who think about governing boards think about board members serving at least in part because they have the means to contribute.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: Now, I’m assuming that that was not a primary motivation. So what did you look for when you recruited trustees?

MAWBY: Well, I guess I was always concerned with finding women and men who were in a sense were statespersons in their own life. If they had a professional career or a business career, they’d been successful in doing that, they were responsible, they were engaged, broadly. They were not single interests. Never wanted a trustee whose sole interest was an issue, one issue, whatever that is, a health issue, an education issue, an environmental issue. Wanted to be aware of all of those concerns about minorities, about women, about all of the pertinent issues of society, but in a balanced and responsible perspective.

So looked at people who were engaged beyond self, so that they were engaged. If they were a practicing physician or in education, whatever their role, fine. But they were engaged beyond that in the problems of their community, in providing broad leadership within the profession or the business community of which they were a part. So they were concerned beyond self and very sensitive and responsible and responsive to the specific issues. Not necessarily in the context of the Kellogg Foundation, not being solely committed to prescribing the answer to the problem or the issue, but concerned with the issue and identifying those people who were thoughtfully addressing that issue and to whom we then could provide assistance, because we always wanted to be issue-oriented but not prescriptive in terms of the solution. We felt that people in their own organizations, their own communities, their own institutions, were best able to do that if they were provided with all of the knowledge that would be useful to them in moving forward in relation to that problem.

SCARPINO: I’m going to take a step back now in the 1969 Tax Reform Act and as I understand it when Congress originally passed that Act, the law said that a foundation could only hold 20% of the stock of a company.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: So in the case of W. K. Kellogg Foundation, that would be the Kellogg Company, and at that point the foundation held 53% of the stock in Kellogg.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: So part of what you did was to negotiate that percentage.

MAWBY: The, and I think the original legislation, maybe it was revised, but so that there was a grandfather provision. The provision basically, no private foundation could hold more than 20% of the, but they had the grandfather provision for foundations and there were only, I think, three or four or a half a dozen in the country. There weren’t very many. Mr. Kellogg was too generous. He gave his share of ownership of the Kellogg Foundation in 1935, about 53%, and so we had 10 years to get down to 50%, actually 48%, because the law had the holdings by what the law called disqualified persons, not unqualified but disqualified persons, which included the donor and all of the Lindale descendants and spouses of the donor had to be categorized and that total group of disqualified persons could hold only 2%.

So we had to get down to 48% in 10 years and then an additional 15 years, a total of 25 years until 1994 to get down to 33% plus 2% for disqualified, 35%. So we had 15 years to meet that threshold, and we did that rather than waiting until 1994, we made that decision in 19 about ’84, about 10 years ahead of that, because anyone who really followed Kellogg stock would know that we had the problem of meeting that requirement. We, as a foundation, the board then tried to persuade Congress that if the stock was privately, well, was publicly traded as Kellogg was, you could immediately determine the market value because it was on the stock market. The real problem was family held or privately held corporations where there’s no public trading and what’s the value of that holding against which the payout requirement is applied. And of course the foundation, we ended up with a payout requirement of 5%, and that’s appropriate. There had been no payout requirement before and that was one of the places in which there was inappropriate misuse of that tax exempt privilege…

SCARPINO: So you’re talking about the payout requirement from the endowment? The earnings of the endowment?

MAWBY: That’s right.


MAWBY: So you have to pay out 5% of the value on, well that’s pretty difficult to, it’s pretty easy to figure out Kellogg on a given day and here’s the shares and here’s the value, but if it’s not a traded stock in a big multi-national, multi-million dollar corporation, how do you determine the value against which you apply the payout. So that was where that question came up. We argued that because you could easily determine the value of Kellogg that that provision didn’t need to apply if the asset, but we were unsuccessful in that because there were only two or three instances and so we proceeded to meet that requirement in 1994. See there were some good provisions of the Tax Reform Act and one of them was the payout requirement.

Another was public accountability, producing an annual report, letting people know who are the boards, who are the members of the board and how do they meet, how do they function, transparency and the filing, it’s annual tax returns and so forth. The most positive part, I think, of that TRA ’69 was the encouragement of the concept of the community foundation, which is a marvelous instrument of philanthropy for people of more modest means.

SCARPINO: And that’s a direct result of that 1969 Act.

MAWBY: And that was a big, Act of ’69. There had been community foundations before but it had never been really institutionalized and sort of set out as the legal structure that any community could become aware of and could implement fairly easily and so that led to great growth in the numbers of community foundations and their importance in philanthropy at the community level.

SCARPINO: The grandfather provision…


SCARPINO: That was a part of the original legislation.


SCARPINO: And that set the ultimate amount of stock that you could own at about 33%.


SCARPINO: Okay, so you were not involved in setting those percentages.

MAWBY: No, that’s right.

SCARPINO: Okay. Your decision was to move quickly.

MAWBY: We decided rather than waiting until the absolute deadline and in the sense of being the victims of forced sale by a given date, we moved appropriately with the trustees at the bank with whom we were working in making that adjustment 10 years ahead of time.

SCARPINO: Now that still left the W. K. Kellogg Foundation as the largest stockholder in the Kellogg Company.

MAWBY: That would still be true.


MAWBY: Now since then, you see I, and if you look back at the history of the Kellogg Foundation, its fantastic growth during my tenure in particular, not due to me at all, due to the success of the Kellogg Company because they were a tremendous organization, global, responsible, tremendous investment and so that we had a diversified portfolio in addition to that but long-term, short-term, yes, you could see where there were periods of time when Kellogg didn’t perform as well as the market, but if you looked at a 10 and 20 year perspective, fantastic success. And so, during my tenure we never sold a share of Kellogg that we didn’t have to sell to meet the legal obligation. Trustees since then have changed that decision and have reduced that percentage below the 33%.

SCARPINO: And that the idea is to diversify the portfolio.

MAWBY: That’s right. Mm hmm. And to feel, you know, that’s the prudent man. You diversify. No great wealth has ever been created by prudent investments. [laughing] The great fortune and the created private foundations generally has been an entrepreneur and that’s the way that the original fortune is created. It’s wise to have some diversification and how far you go in that is a matter of judgment.

SCARPINO: The founder, W. K. Kellogg, as you pointed out, had a basic goal to help people help themselves through the application of knowledge and other resources including money to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of future generations.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: He emphasized the importance of education. He had confidence in the ability of people to make good decisions, especially if they had access to information and resources and the foundation had, before your tenure as CEO, had concentrated its efforts on health, education, agriculture and rural youth.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: When you became CEO of Kellogg, what did you see that you could build on?

MAWBY: What did I see?

SCARPINO: What did you see that you could build on?

MAWBY: Could build on? Well, you know, in all of those areas there’s always an element of unfinished business and it’s interesting that in the initial decade, that the foundation concentrated its efforts in seven rural counties surrounding Battle Creek in south central Michigan, and that was the decade in which Mr. Kellogg was personally engaged. He was 70 years old when he established the foundation and was engaged, became blind in the early 1940s, 1941, died in 1951. So, still continued to engage in that last decade of his life, but it was that initial 10 years the foundation board of trustees reviewed what other foundations were doing. Mr. Kellogg was concerned that rural youngsters were deprived of educational opportunities because it was before the consolidation of schools and school buses and so forth. So typically, like my folks finished eight grades in a one or two-room community school. No high school. He was concerned about that.

SCARPINO: You went to a two-room school.

MAWBY: And he was concerned about the inadequacy so the first thing they did was to help in each of the county seats of those seven counties to create a hospital. They didn’t have a hospital in those counties. And so he was concerned that there was a disparity for rural young people. The agricultural emphasis of course was based upon the concern with food, that if you look at health, if you solve the nutritional problem and pure water, you solve most of the health problems of youngsters in particular but people of all ages.

So the term agriculture was in a sense the least descriptive because it was really food systems plus then the broader concern for the quality of life for people living in rural communities. And so, we continued to think about in health how do you change the health system to have progressive patient care? That was the first term. Now here’s an old farm boy, majored in horticulture now dealing in health professions, asking dumb questions like how come dentistry is not a part of the health profession system? It’s left out of all, and you’d know because you’re a scholar. You would know that that decision was made by a medical faculty in the 1850s because the medical faculty decided that dentistry was not a profession. It was a trade.

SCARPINO: Right, in the 1850s it was. [laughing]

MAWBY: And 1850s, and so it couldn’t be a part of the medical school, and so health benefits today, the biggest problem for elementary school kids is probably dental problems, but it’s not a part of health services generally. So, we dealt with questions like that and how you have the progression from the intensive care of the hospital setting to assisted living and then to independent living at home and so forth, that the answer very often was not merger of established institutions but shared services so that you had three hospitals in the city, you didn’t need to merge them but they could benefit greatly by shared services for laundry and for food service, et cetera. And so that was the concept leading then to some of the provisions which became federal legislation later.

So that the biggest, I suppose, continuing emphasis was the concern with continuing education or lifelong learning that in the professions you certainly don’t want your surgeon continuing to operate with the technology he learned 35 years ago. So it’s continuing education, but that’s true in all aspects of society whether you’re looking at the curriculum of a K-12 school system, looking at welfare programs, looking at foster care. In most areas of human concern we know a way a whole lot better than we’re doing, and that’s the unending challenge, and so the biggest, I suppose, impact in some ways in that has been through modern technology. Just incredible technology now that’s available so that distant rural schools can have access with technology, the two educational components which until now were unavailable. So that’s the frontier where the foundation continues through the simple notion that education—in Mr. Kellogg’s words—education offers the greatest opportunity for improving one generation over another. And that’s the continuing emphasis, but accommodating to the wonderful opportunities that come about because of changes which continue to take place.

SCARPINO: When you became CEO, did you see areas where you could move in new directions?

MAWBY: Yes, and in a variety of ways. One, from the very beginning the foundation, interesting, would have been concerned with the development of leaders in the community, leaders in the professions, leaders in institutions and that led, very interestingly, initially they started by, in those seven counties they would take the board of trustees of the hospital and the medical staff and so forth, they had three collaborating institutions—the University of Michigan because of its expertise in the health professions broadly, the University of Chicago, again the health professions and education, Michigan State University with its rural orientation, education and community development, food systems, and so forth.

So they’d load people on the train and take them to Chicago or to Ann Arbor for continuing education in their specific role of governance and leadership for their institution and for their community. That led immediately to the problem, where do people stay if they’re coming to the university for four days, and that led to the concept of university-based residential center for continuing education, because you can’t move this cadre into the dormitories, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s those kinds of variations that the foundation continues to pursue.

And one of the greatest challenges, I think, is to have existing institutions accommodate to the opportunities and the problems, issues that continue to present themselves. So we continue to emphasize the role of the professions, the importance, and so leadership became a central issue. Now the interesting problem in leadership if you look at society, we need to continue to benefit from superb specialization, and most vivid in medicine and human health where you get specialists in the various organs and the systems of the body, et cetera.

SCARPINO: But the silos got deeper and deeper.

MAWBY: Deeper and deeper and deeper, and the silos don’t talk to each other, and the reality is that none of the really significant problems can be dealt with by any one specialty, and so this led us then in 1980 to the creation of the Kellogg National Fellowship Program, in which our goal was to identify about 50 bright young women and men who had already established themselves in their particular career whether it was in business or in the academic world or in non-profits, wherever it might be, had some degree of success and credibility, stature, but needed to benefit if they were really going to provide leadership in significant issues, to appreciate the role of the other specialties that they’d have to mobilize if they were going to really solve the bigger problem, and so the goal was to bring these people together to learn from each other but then from the experience and the resources to learn how to work with others and to recruit, mobilize the other specialties, the other specialists, if you please, that are necessary to deal with a significant problem. And so the goal was to broaden their perspective and commit them to a broader issue than which is really basic to dealing with problems at the community level where life is lived by most of us and it’s beyond the specialty. It’s mobilizing those resources.

SCARPINO: They had to work on a problem outside of their own area of specialization.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: And you paid them for a year to do that, right?

MAWBY: Three years.

SCARPINO: I’m sorry, three years.

MAWBY: Yes, three years, kind of experience first, looking locally then nationally then internationally because increasingly there’s all of these engagements, international dimensions of increasing importance in all aspects of human life.

SCARPINO: We increasingly live in a global world.

MAWBY: We increasingly do.

SCARPINO: Let me see, if I’m putting words in your mouth, tell me, but it seems to me as though what you were saying in your role as CEO at Kellogg was that specialization creates knowledge that can be used for social good, but generalists apply that knowledge as leaders and solve problems.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: Is that a fair…?

MAWBY: Exactly, and that, yes, and you can continue to be a specialist but you need to have the bigger perspective of what are the issues? I always use the example, for example, in Michigan, our water supply is basically underground water systems and so if you’re concerned with the purity of drinking water in Michigan, most places, underground water systems, you have to have all of the technology. You need to know percolation rates and how chemicals move down through and how they pollute the, you have to know where the underground streams and the great reservoirs and the aquifers and so forth. Have to have all that technology.

But the reality is then that politically in Michigan, responsibility is not with the state, it’s not with the county, it’s with the township unit of the government, and so if you’re going to see with those problems of how your farming practices may be polluting the underground water system or the stream, but let’s say the underground system, you have to engage the political process, the policies and so forth. So in addition just to the technicians, the scientists, you have to then have those who can mobilize the appropriate decision makers to come up with reasonable and enforceable policies to deal with those problems. So that the technician, absolutely essential, that scientific base, but its implementation is much more complicated than that, and so if you start thinking about changes in health care delivery to encourage let’s say independent living at home with a different system of support and maintenance, lots of people have to be engaged in those policies and those practices to make those things happen. So the challenge is to recognize how these various specialties can be mobilized to work together to deal with these really very significant issues.

SCARPINO: Now you were using Kellogg’s resources in that fellowship program to train leaders who could do that.

MAWBY: That’s exactly right.

SCARPINO: And leadership training was…

MAWBY: Leadership training always.


MAWBY: Another area in which we moved, interestingly, was the whole concept of philanthropy—private initiative for the public good which generally we have three broad sectors of our society. We have the for-profit business component of society and that’s the market-driven economic system and it’s the success of that system that creates jobs, that creates revenues, that provide taxes, provide charitable contributions, and so forth.

Secondly, we have government, which is very important and we go through cycles saying the roles of the government and responsibility to expand and then we begin to say whoops we’ve gone further than we wish, we back up. So that it is very important that we have good government at all levels and we’re grappling with problems of the government system that was set up before we had modern transportation, modern communications and so forth and we have more levels of government that now than our function and we need so we, but we need good government.

Third then in this American society we have the non-profit sector, and a lot of the character and a lot of the caring of life at the community level is a contribution in the non-profit sector. It’s our churches, it’s our cultural activities, it’s our recreational activities, it’s the enhancement of education, on, on and on go the non-profit sector, and in general, that’s been least identified as a component in the academic world, relatively little study about the motivations for provision of time and talent and treasure and so forth, and so we’ve been a major player in emphasizing strengthening of the non-profit sector, those institutions or organizations, again, the governance, the professional leadership, the volunteers who are a part of it, all of them need training and all of them need continuing education in carrying out their respective responsibilities.

SCARPINO: You put resources into each of those areas.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: You served as Chief Executive Officer of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation during a period of tremendous social and technological change in the United States and in the world. How did you handle the tension between the vision and the wishes of the founder and the changes and evolving needs of society? Things are not the same.

MAWBY: No, that’s right, and so you have a board of trustees who provide broad perspective and the issues and general principles and policies in which you operate, and then you have the bright members of our program staff who are identifying those who are potential grantee institutions always related then to where people are making changes and responsibly moving forward, and it’s simply an unending process of interaction and communication that’s never finished.

SCARPINO: I mean did you see your part of your role as Chief Executive Officer as trying to figure out where to situate the foundation and its resources in a rapidly changing world?

MAWBY: Oh, sure, and you depend upon the wisdom of trustees and staff and consultants and so forth, but it’s simply an unending process of moving forward, and so we would identify specific issues, recruit staff to provide leadership, not to provide the solutions but to identify people who were dealing with those issues and trying to mobilize the latest technology, the latest information, wherever that may be created. The knowledge generation in society globally now is just overwhelming, and so that the challenge is to keep up with that potential.

SCARPINO: I read the 1990 foundation annual report, or part of it.

MAWBY: You’re probably one of very few who did, but thank you for doing that.

SCARPINO: [laughing] Well, I read the, I didn’t read the whole thing. I read your part, I read the chairman’s report and there’s a section in there called programming in the nineties, and what struck me was the title. You called it, or I believe you called it this, The Continuity of Change.


SCARPINO: And I’m wondering is if that’s how you handle the tension between the vision of the founder and the evolving world that you lived in. Continuity of Change.

MAWBY: Continuity of Change. Change is ongoing. You see I was able always to talk about Mr. Kellogg, not in any past sense, because he was a change agent. He changed dramatically and if he were still living today he’d be doing things dramatically different than he was at that time because he was always, he was a, fascinating that in 1919 he spent six months traveling in Asia, in China, and the Philippines. Now just think of going in 1919 by boat and by train and by barge in China, interested. Always a changing mind, a visionary, always looking for new opportunities and always respecting the culture of others, respectful of the wishes and the aspirations. Not trying to impose his values, except to the extent that there are certain values which seem to characterize all of humanity. So he was a remarkable changing person. So he would be changing responsibly based upon new information available and so it was not a constraining reality that we tried to be true to his vision and his values which were to help people help themselves. Not by doing something for them, but enabling them to do that which were the goals.

SCARPINO: In the years that you were associated with the Kellogg Foundation, from the time you first became the head of the Agricultural section until you retired as CEO, the United States in many ways was a society in turmoil.

MAWBY: Oh, yes. The sixties were tumultuous, yes.

SCARPINO: We were divided over Vietnam, of course.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Civil rights, the environmental movement, women’s rights, I mean, we could go on and on. Issues with concerns about population, limited resources, jobs, I mean…

MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right.

SCARPINO: The silent majority.

MAWBY: Everything, yes.

SCARPINO: From 1972 to ’74, Watergate added to the turmoil.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: How did the, both the energy and the turmoil of American society impact your actions as CEO?

MAWBY: Well, I think you simply would look at those issues and try to see where are the opportunities based upon the application of knowledge. What do we know that can be helpful in dealing with some of those realities? I think one of the most significant things we did, for example, was recognize with the Civil Rights Act the tremendous change in the reality of life for people of color.

SCARPINO: 1964 Civil Rights, yeah.

MAWBY: Yeah, and we looked at that situation and most foundations have dealt very effectively with private universities, but done virtually nothing with the public institutions, and yet the greatest numbers of blacks were enrolled in the public traditionally black institutions. Those created in 1890, the so-called 1890 institutions which followed the land grant legislation of 1863. So we immediately then saw those institutions that had been created, they were producing particularly a faculty for K-12, teachers for K-12 segregated school systems, segregated extension services, segregated health services, et cetera, and suddenly the opportunities were different, and so the Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T and Fort Valley and Alcorn and so forth had a tremendous opportunity to broaden then the opportunities to provide hope and vision for increasing numbers of young women and men. So we immediately began working with them on identifying the areas in which they wished to move forward, North Carolina, I invited myself to seven institutions to talk about the opportunities. North Carolina A&T wanted to get their College of Engineering accredited and what did they need? They needed some of their young faculty needed to go away for advanced degrees. And so we worked out, based upon our experience in Latin America with fellowships we could help establish relationships with new study centers to send faculty from North Carolina A&T engineering to a university and establish a relationship between that college of engineering with the one at North Carolina.

SCARPINO: Now did Kellogg begin that type of activity right after the passage of the Civil Rights Act?

MAWBY: Yeah, very quickly.

SCARPINO: You know, it occurs to me as I hear you talk, that in effect what you were doing was preparing people for a different situation. Preparing for the end of what amounted to apartheid in our own country.

MAWBY: That’s exactly right.

SCARPINO: And that you eventually did the same thing in South Africa.

MAWBY: We, exactly the same. We went to South Africa. I visited South Africa in 1985, and it was apparently, it was just apparent, you know, apartheid is going to end. It’s not a question of if apartheid’s going to end it’s just when it ends and how it, and can the transition be made constructively and positively. And it was just immediately apparent that most of the major universities were already integrated. They said that they had, there were more blacks qualified to go to university than they had scholarships for. So we simply set up, quickly, on a handshake, we would say. We’ll provide fellowships and we selected five areas: the health professions, education, food systems, public administration, and business administration. And all of those things, we can’t do everything, so we selected those areas as being key where now would be opportunities and the demand for qualified blacks in those opportunities and responsibilities immediately. And so we simply said, we’ll provide that starting this next academic year. We’ll continue support of those students until they graduate so long as they continue to make progress. So that was in ’85. Apartheid ended more quickly than anybody had anticipated. When I was there in ’85, but apartheid really ended in 1890 or 1990, in 1990, and so already you’re beginning to get a cadre of young people qualified.

SCARPINO: I mean was that was your goal, to create a cadre of people who would be ready when apartheid ended?

MAWBY: Yes. That you simply needed people who could move into positions in government, in business, in the non-profit world and so forth and there were numbers who, and we could provide support for seven students there for the cost of bringing one to the United States, and the problem if you brought the student to the United States she didn’t or he didn’t want to go back.

SCARPINO: Didn’t want to go back, that’s right.

MAWBY: So we immediately moved. So it was that kind of looking positively at those opportunities for initiative. We then, interestingly, had a major initiative with the Native American colleges.

SCARPINO: I want to ask you about the Kellogg Company in South America first and we’ll come back.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: Kellogg had a factory in South Africa.


SCARPINO: And at the time, that is in the 1980s, many western European and U. S. companies were disinvesting in South Africa. They were getting out.

MAWBY: That’s right. The pressure was on to get out.

SCARPINO: The Kellogg Company stayed.


SCARPINO: And it did so with the support of its Chief Executive Officer, William LaMothe, L a m o t h e, and with your support, and you were, of course, the largest shareholder in the Kellogg Company. So, first of all, where was that factory in South Africa?

MAWBY: Near Johannesburg, and the company had started, Bill LaMothe was a remarkable CEO of the company and they had started the company there in, I’m going to say about 1947 after World War II. It was a small company about 400 employees.

SCARPINO: Almost all black.


SCARPINO: Almost all black. The employees?

MAWBY: Almost all black and blacks in every opportunity. They were in finance. They were in advertising. They were in sales. They were in production. They were everywhere. Worked with them in the village on housing and on schools and on health care. The first company to recognize a black union. Bill LaMothe came to the board about the third year that recommendations had been presented to, for the shareholders meeting to divest. Get out of South Africa, and Bill LaMothe said to the board of directors simply, I can’t make that decision because if I do, I’ve been there, I’ve given 25-year service pins to employees and we’ve provided opportunities for our people. They’re doing great, and if we sell we’ll have to sell to African, South African or Japanese or German, most of what we’ve done will be wiped out. He said I can’t do that, and he asked three members of the board of directors to go, talk with anybody you wish to talk to. We’ll set up appointments with anybody you want to talk to—in government, in the company, or labor unions, and come back. So Pete Estes, who was a retired president of General Motors and had been engaged in Africa globally. Paul Smucker, a remarkable, that Smucker’s jams and jellies, Paul, a remarkable human being, and I went.

SCARPINO: In 1985.

MAWBY: Five.


MAWBY: And I had talked with our board, well in 1980, we had, following World War II we’d had a major initiative in northern Europe and that had been very successful, accomplished the objectives and we began to phase out. We expanded, double our involvements in Latin America and began to consider the continent of Africa. So we had been studying Africa. So I talked to the board of the foundation, saying a part of my sub-agenda will be to try to learn if there’s an opportunity there for us. The recommendations of the three company board were that we stay, that we talked with people in retailing, we talked to the labor unions, the bright young man who was president, he said I can’t say this publicly, but I want you to stay because you’re doing more good for us by staying, so please stay.

SCARPINO: This was the president of the labor union.

MAWBY: The union, yeah. So please stay. So we recommended that the company stay but the second decision was simply to say to our board of trustees that here is this opportunity. The universities say they can, they’re very open to this. They already had black students. They could handle additional numbers.

But I recommend that, when we’re talking to people, they said we get foundations from the U. S. are always coming, they’re walking through and they talk and then they go home and we never hear anything. And so we said well, when we go, we had a vice president go and he could sit down with you as the vice chancellor, the president of the university and say you’ve indicated you have this interest in the health fields and in education. You don’t have food systems but you’re interested in public administration and business administration. We’ll provide x number starting this fall, handshake, we’ll do the paperwork later. And so it was just immediate and a very positive consequence and again was that sort of shirt-sleeve, Midwestern attitude saying, let’s get on with it, because there are good people and good institutions anxious to take this positive step.

SCARPINO: Did the Kellogg Company take any hits for staying in South Africa?

MAWBY: Not seriously. I think at the shareholders meetings the presentations that we made, Bill LaMothe would present his concerns, very compassionate, saying we think you can’t affect the outcome of the game if you leave the playing field, and we can do more good for the blacks of South Africa by staying there with our very small, very modest, doesn’t make any difference the bottom line of the company really, but I can’t make the decision to do that to these loyal people.

SCARPINO: Just to get this in the record, apartheid remained the rule in South Africa for most of your tenure at the Kellogg Foundation.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: President de Klerk, d e k l e r k, released Nelson Mandela February 1990. First democratic election in South Africa, April 1994. Your involvement, that is, the Kellogg Foundation’s involvement, began in 1986, and if I’ve got the number right, awarding $350,000,000 to support economic development and these scholarships.

MAWBY: Scholarships, yeah.

SCARPINO: Why was it important to train black leaders under the apartheid regime?

MAWBY: Simply because apartheid will end. It’s wrong, and it would end and the question was not if, even if you talk to the apartheid enthusiasts, they said, and we talked to as many black leaders and they said we’ve already made so much progress. Things are so much better now than they were when I was a child, is what I can remember women and men saying, but this will end, and we need to have more young people qualified, equipped, prepared for the additional responsibilities and opportunities which will be theirs. Education offers the greatest opportunity.

SCARPINO: When you went to South Africa, did you go to Soweto?

MAWBY: To the township?



SCARPINO: Were you ever afraid?


SCARPINO: No? I mean that was a time when…

MAWBY: The amazing thing…

SCARPINO: …toss a tire around the neck of white people and light it on fire?

MAWBY: The amazing thing just here is this old farm boy going to Soweto. There’s a country club in Soweto. I didn’t know there was a country club in Soweto, and there were blacks living in houses 10 times as good as the house I lived in at home. Wonderful houses in the township. So there was that dis-, and yet there were the cardboard shacks. There were both. So apartheid’s wrong. The whole thing is wrong, but there was that and first thing we, the three of us got there and they’ve stayed us in a five-star beautiful hotel, and we went up to the dining room for dinner, and at the three tables adjacent to us blacks at all three tables, and you know? We thought from the impression of the media that would never happen. And so there was that discontinuity, but apartheid was wrong. No question, and needed to end, and we just needed more, they needed more people qualified for those opportunities, responsibilities, desperately needed for leadership in all aspects of life, and so it was just right to train people to be ready for those responsibilities.

SCARPINO: How do you think you did?

MAWBY: I think it made a difference. It gave hope to them and many of them moved very quickly. We then expanded from the, just bursaries, that’s scholarships, to some activities supporting educational institutions, some community development and so forth, but I think the biggest impact always is people, and that were that cadre of people and a big element of it had to be hope. That you gave hope and opportunity that things are going to change and I, as an individual, now going on to university to become an educator, to become an administrator, business executive, whatever, can be a part of that change, and that’s the spirit you sensed in those young people.

SCARPINO: Did you ever go back to South Africa?


SCARPINO: Did you ever meet Nelson Mandela?

MAWBY: No, I did not. Met Bishop Tutu there, and a couple of times in the United States. Remarkable leaders, and the timing was right, I think, that and the decision for the company to stay was the right decision, because when you leave the playing field, you don’t have much impact on the outcome of the game.

SCARPINO: When I look at what the Kellogg Foundation did in the American south, which had virtual apartheid in 1964…


SCARPINO: …and when I look at what you did in South Africa, it seems to me from the perspective of an outsider that those two are related.

MAWBY: No question.

SCARPINO: And how were they related? What did you learn in the south that you applied in South Africa?

MAWBY: The best thing you can do is provide hope and opportunity, which before then had not been available, not been really possible, and so for the first time if you visited Fort Valley or Alcorn or Alabama A&M and North Carolina A&T, for the first time the faculty and the students and the leadership of the institution felt that tomorrow is a better day.

SCARPINO: So when we talked yesterday, you said that one of the things that surprised you, I think when you were at Tuskegee University, was that the gentleman who brought people together to meet you had to get them home before dark.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: That’s a climate of fear.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: And South Africa also controlled this black population through terror and fear.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: So when you experienced that, did you come away thinking that people were basically good or basically evil? What did you learn about human nature?

MAWBY: Yeah, well. That most people, most people are basically good, but there are evil people and you have to deal with that reality. But you have to feel that most people are honest. Most people are caring. Most people are respectful and you get tiny groups. All you have to do, you can have a campus of 20,000 students and three kids can get the headlines nationally, and the rest of the 20,000 students are going right back to the library and to the laboratory and to the classroom and doing what they should do. So the challenge is to keep those things in perspective and recognize that you try to help those who do want to help themselves and to help others in appropriate, positive ways.

SCARPINO: Now, several minutes ago as we started to follow this path, you raised the subject of Native American schools.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: And so I’m going to ask you about that, and then I’m going to take a big step back. But you got the Kellogg Foundation involved in the business of educating Native Americans.


SCARPINO: So could you tell us how that happened?

MAWBY: Well, simply, again, the whole history of what I guess European Americans did when they came in and did to the Native Americans is a disaster, and I continue to be appalled at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its sentry and I don’t know what it’s doing anything better now than it was a hundred years ago. I’m not sure. I’m no longer engaged. But the Native American leadership in many of these reservations started small schools, very often a residential high school, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs did some of that, but they began then to really start a community college the first couple of years.

We, and we became engaged with them. They wanted to do two things in most instances—develop a relationship with a public four-year institution so that faculty and students could have transferability to the junior and senior years to support in curriculum, but most of those young Native Americans on those reservations just didn’t have an opportunity to think of going off to a big public university, dormitory living and a different role of life and not the support of family and tribe and so forth. And so that transition could be tremendously important.

So we simply worked with them again on faculty and appropriate curriculum development. Tried to develop relationships so that there can be for the faculty and students and some of those institutions can actually become four-year institutions. I think it’s a mistake to think that all community colleges should become four-year institutions. They should continue to have the alternatives, the options of either a credential after one or two years that can lead me into a skill trade, a profession, a job, or the opportunity of going on to university for a baccalaureate degree and so forth. So again, it was a question of providing the resources to help them accomplish what they thought would be useful to their faculty and their students. And so that the head of group planning, a Native American bright young lady on our staff who had been a Kellogg National Fellow Program, came on our staff and she was providing leadership and working with the committee.

SCARPINO: Do you remember which tribe?

MAWBY: Upstate New York and I’m not sure. I don’t want to name the wrong tribe, but she was a remarkable young lady, and still is remarkable, a little older but still remarkable, and the planning group was saying, well, there are 37 institutions and we think we should pick 15 to come to a meeting. I said, why would you do that? Why don’t you invite all 37 and let them make the decision? You don’t want to sit here in Battle Creek with your little planning group and say we’re going to invite these 15 because they’re more ready in our judgment. Invite all 37.

Well, 27 came or something, and then they were able to follow through. So the key always, it seems to me, is to be open and flexible to really be responsible, sensitive. See, life is too complicated for this old farm boy, so I’ve tried to identify and have done this through a variety of sources but there’s an institute for global ethics that started here in Boston and is now headquartered in Maine. Rushworth Kidder, and he did that study globally in the early 1990s, and he found five values that he feels go across the cultures globally—honesty, caring, respect, responsibility, and fair. And so I used those first four words constantly as I was making decisions and still do in my own personal life. I don’t have much professional role now. To try to be honest and to be caring and to be respectful and be responsible. And that’s why you invite all 37. Don’t me decide who’s going to come, let them decide.

SCARPINO: Do you remember some of the specific tribes or locations where Kellogg invested in Native American education?

MAWBY: No, I’d have to go back. Much of that happened really in the last half of the nineties and 2000, on after I was there.

SCARPINO: After you retired. So you got it started.

MAWBY: Got started and got it started in what I thought was the right way. Don’t us decide. Let them decide who’s coming and then what they need to accomplish.

SCARPINO: Okay. I’m going to ask you a kind of a technical question for the benefit of people who are going to listen to this.

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: Can you explain the relationship between the Kellogg Company, the Kellogg Trust, and the Kellogg Foundation?

MAWBY: Oh, sure, that’s simple. Even an old horse…

SCARPINO: Simple for you. [laughing]

MAWBY: Kellogg Company is a great organization created by W. K. Kellogg in 1906. He quit his job at the Battle Creek Sanitarium as the business manager of the Battle Creek San in 1906 and started the Kellogg toasted cornflakes company, and it’s a private, international corporation with its own board of directors completely separate. In 1930 he established the foundation, but had a board of trustees, laws were completely different then. He could work with the trustees, provide the operating funds to see if this was going to work. He had had some unhappy experiences with his initial experiments in philanthropy. Wanted to see if this was going to work. Decided it was and in 1935 created the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Trust to which he gave his charitable ownership of the Kellogg Company—1935.

SCARPINO: That’s where they got the 52% of the stock.

MAWBY: That’s where they got 52% of stock. So the foundation then had its own small general fund, but its basic income was from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Trust.

SCARPINO: Which held the stock and the money.

MAWBY: Which held the stock and the money, and which then initially until 1984 was essentially 100% Kellogg stock, but then diversified as required by Congress and new law. The Kellogg Foundation Trust then, is if you look at the annual report, there are really two reports of the foundation trust. The beneficiary of the foundation trust is the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. So long as in the judgment of the co-trustees of the trust, the foundation does what Mr. Kellogg, what the original trust instrument instructed it to be. So it’s an interesting legal arrangement created in the early 1930s which still operates.

Now, when you’re sitting at the Kellogg Company board as a director, you have to be concerned with the best interest of every shareholder and you can’t, you’re not just the foundation, not just its purposes, but there so that it’s an interesting legal relationship and has worked very well. It’s clear in the instruments and in Mr. Kellogg’s personal, in no way—there’s a famous letter written in 1935. I should provide you, should have brought the copy of that. Mr. Kellogg in 1935 wrote a letter to the trustees and so forth saying I’ve made this decision and I want you to understand why. In no way shall the work of the foundation in any way at any time be used for the interests of the company. In no way shall the company at any time ever try to use the foundation to serve. So that those decisions completely separate.

So very clearly I was very open with the board and when I went to South Africa that I was there with two hats. One to really work with the other two directors of the company to see what, in our judgment, would be the right decision for the company, for the company to make. Secondly, quite independent of that, we, you know, the company is global. The foundation geographically is very restricted, you know, to now, to the U.S. The board of the foundation now has reduced their involvement of Latin America. No longer involved in South America at all, but simply Mexico and Central America and so forth. So that the two are completely separate in function. No relationship, so that nothing in our bursary program related to the company, per se. So that they’re three legal entities, each with their specific responsibility and governance role and responsibility.

SCARPINO: The entire time that you were CEO of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, you lived on your own farm. Rimy Mead? Right? Rimy, R i m y?

MAWBY: R-M, Rimy Mead. My initials are RM, and when I got in the cattle business and I had three cows, they had, the registration had to have my initials so it’s RM. So I decided well mead is meadow and Rimy or Rimy means frosty, frosty meadow. So that’s my 40 acres. Whenever I get the UDSA information about having to report as a farm, I say, you know, we don’t have the income, we don’t have, we’re really not a farm. We’re a substitute for tennis, because I don’t play tennis and I don’t play golf. I do go out and shovel horse manure.

SCARPINO: Well, that’s where I was headed actually. I mean, you did your own chores. You raised ponies. Halfinger ponies?

MAWBY: Halfingers, yes.

SCARPINO: H a l f i n g e r.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Arabians, trotters.

MAWBY: Yeah, but you know, never, I’ve always described that 40 acres and the garden and the horses as my therapy.

SCARPINO: I understand that some of the Arabians were actually descendents of horses on the W. K. Kellogg ranch in California.

MAWBY: That’s right. Well, at about 70, if you look at the Arabian horse pedigrees in this country now, if you go back to the twenties and thirties, 1930s and 20s, 75% of the Arabian horses in this country have bloodlines going back to Mr. Kellogg’s herd back in, and that herd, which since 1949 has been the responsibility of the University, California, is the longest continuous breeding herd of Arabians in this country.

SCARPINO: You also had Herefords. At least one yoke of oxen.

MAWBY: Yeah. Gosh, yes.

SCARPINO: Can you milk the cow? [laughing]

MAWBY: Sure I can milk that cow, and yeah, you’d get a chuckle out of this, you see. I just love livestock, so I had three Polled Hereford. My oldest son was interested so we got three cows. So people would talk about how is your farm. Oh, it’s great, I said. Well how’s the cattle? Oh, the cattle is doing great. I said, going so well we’re planning on doubling the herd. [laughter] And they’d say oh gosh, you know, thinking I had a hundred cows and now I’m going to double the herd. I’d say, yeah all three cows are going to have calves. So, I’m smart enough to know that when the absolutes are not impressive, you use percentages, don’t you?

SCARPINO: That’s right.

MAWBY: So anyway, Ruth was my wonderful wife for half a century. Ruth was a farm girl and I was a farm kid and we just loved the outdoors and loved the livestock with the kids and the grandchildren and had great fun.

SCARPINO: So did living and working on that farm have any impact on the kind of leader you were at Kellogg?

MAWBY: Sure, no question. No question.

SCARPINO: What was the impact?

MAWBY: And one of the things I delivered, when I was at the university, we lived in a small village because Ruth and I didn’t have any biological kids, we adopted three kids and the kind of life of the wonderful university environment and the East Lansing school systems and so forth just weren’t something that these kids could accommodate to. So we lived separate from that and all you’d have to do is learn a little bit about those breeds. The three breeds of horses are completely different. The kinds of owners, the engagements. And so people would say, you know, I’d be there washing my oxen, cleaning off the manure, getting ready for whatever we were going to do next, and they’d say well what do you do and I’d say oh, I work at Kellogg’s. So you just engaged in a completely different way than the image if you say you’re the CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, people would immediate have a certain image of what you are and who you are, and this gave me an engagement. I could talk about education and health care and all of these issues with people and were around Arabian horse people, a completely different kind of socio-economic group and most of the harness racing, completely different than thoroughbred racing. Harness racing is a small business, businessmen, and so you just had a collection of friends and associates that you could talk with about issues and problems and engage with in stimulating ways and so just deliberately tried to continue to be a part of life in the community as Russ Mawby.

SCARPINO: Did the fact that you were shoveling out your own stalls keep you grounded in reality?

MAWBY: Sure, why not? Well, and you know, somehow you can be working away at those jobs and you’re thinking about the next problem on the agenda, the board meeting next week, and what the issues are and so forth, and it’s important. I just always described my substitute for tennis or golf.

SCARPINO: I saw a picture of you and your daughter, Karen, marching with your yoke of oxen with the names Yankee and Doodle, in the bicentennial parade in Washington D.C. in 1976.

MAWBY: Yes, indeed.

SCARPINO: I also read that you regularly took those same oxen to the local Fourth of July parade in the nearby community where you lived.

MAWBY: Sure. Sure.

SCARPINO: And it almost seemed to me that that kind of represented the different worlds that you moved in.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: I mean, how did you end up in Washington?

MAWBY: It was just fun. It was just a joke. Oxen, you have to know, are simply steers, castrated males, steers trained to work. And they are water, oxen in India are different than they are in Costa Rica or Guatemala or than they were in Maine and Massachusetts. Oxen in this country were usually English breeds. Shorthorn, they were red or roan with short horns, and so I was just intrigued. Coming up to the bicentennial, what could we do differently, and an old horseman, we were standing there talking and I said Jack, I’ve got to do something different for the bicentennial. He said why don’t you train those two calves or, they look a lot alike, maybe they could be a team of oxen. So they were born a day apart and we named them Yankee and Doodle.

You drive oxen with voice command. You don’t use bridles and lines and all that stuff and so we trained Yankee and Doodle. Since then I’ve found a lot of resources but I had to contact people to see what are the right voice commands and so forth. So the first parade we went to were the Delton Homecoming to see if they would run away when the high school band came by and so forth, and then by golly, publicity about the Happy Birthday USA Parade, and so we wrote and applied. Sent our picture and a description of Yankee and Doodle and their cart, and Karen was in colonial costume riding in the cart and I was resplendent in knee britches and a ponytail and a tri-corner hat.

SCARPINO: I saw your picture. [laughing]

MAWBY: And so we, and we got accepted in Happy Birthday USA Parade. So then I said gee, whiz, now I’ve done it. So the national 4-H Center is out in Chevy Chase. There’s a campus with an old farm boy from Missouri, headed it up so I called him and said, Grant, got a problem. We’re coming to the parade and Hilton doesn’t take pets. Could you find a farm or a place we could keep a pair of oxen? He laughed and said I’ll sure look at that. So he called back the next day. Chevy Chase board of county, the city commission was remodeling the city hall and they were using the 4-H Center’s board room for their meetings. He said last night the city council met and I was talking to the mayor and I said I’ve got a problem. I’ve got to find a place to keep a pair of oxen for the parade, and he, the mayor said, you can keep him here, you’ve got plenty of room and Grant said, right you’ve got an ordinance says we can’t even have a dog. Mayor said we’ll pass an ordinance variance for that weekend, and so Yankee and Doodle…

SCARPINO: So they passed a special ordinance?

MAWBY: Yeah, special ordinance. I slept out with them because I didn’t want, on the grounds, and so we were in the, so that, the only distinctive thing in my resume is that I claim to be the only living American to have driven a pair of ox, we were the only oxen. There were 10,000 people in the parade. Horses, horses, horses, no oxen. I claim to be the only living American to have driven a pair of oxen down Constitution Avenue from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, and it’s distinctive. [laughter]

SCARPINO: And probably true.

MAWBY: So Yankee and Doodle were wonderful. They were completely different than horses to work with. Voice commands, unflappable. We were in Washington. We went to the Festival of the American West at Utah State University, and oxen were the power that cleared the land. They were the power originally, but they get little credit for that, so we had great fun with Yankee and Doodle.

SCARPINO: Because I’m a historian I’m going to ask this question.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: I understand that you received an application for assistance from the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association which runs the, Mount Vernon, Washington’s home, and that your knowledge of oxen actually had an impact on their application and what they did there.

MAWBY: That’s right. Well what we did was, you see, visiting Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon of course is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. It’s not owned by the U. S. government. It’s not a federal park. Wonderful, and Pamela Cunningham from South Carolina was concerned that Mount Vernon was deteriorating and in 1850s raised $200,000 and bought Mount Vernon. Anyway, if you went there and it was kind of a passive, you’d walk through the garden and through the house and it was all quiet and you never learned much about life at Mount Vernon and so forth. Well how did Washington make a living? He was a farmer. 7,800 acres. Ten square miles, more than that, but huge farm. He was gone for eight years and Martha ran it.

He was home for four years, he was gone for eight years, and Martha ran it again, and you never got that message, and so he had designed this threshing barn in 1790, and so we helped them create it, got the college students to come in and make the bricks and do the whole business and set up the seven-year crop rotation. Out of that, I of course said, to the ladies how many oxen did Mr. Washington have. Well, they didn’t think he had any oxen. He had horses. He had mules, the distinctive thing. I said he must have had oxen.

So they went back and checked in the archives and he did an inventory in 1784 of the five farms, and there were about 60 oxen and had the whole procedure. You train them when they’re two years old and you feed in this way and then working season and you turn them out to pasture and when they’re nine years old you send them to the butcher. [laughing] And so I said, you’ve got to have oxen, so now they have oxen at Mount Vernon and they just and if you haven’t been to Mount Vernon lately they’ve, you know, it used to be kind of a passive experience. Now they have an orientation, and they have a wonderful, wonderful museum. Have you seen that?

SCARPINO: I have, yeah.

MAWBY: It’s underground.

SCARPINO: I’ve actually, well it’s been about five years since I’ve been there.

MAWBY: But that educational exhibit, all underground so it didn’t change the beauty of the estate. Fantastic job. So the whole Mount Vernon experience now is so different because you learn about slavery. You learn about Martha and her role. You learn about life, living at Mount Vernon in the 1780s and 1790s. A fascinating experience.

SCARPINO: In 1980, when you had been CEO for about 10 years, the foundation celebrated its 50th birthday.


SCARPINO: And you published a special report called The First Half Century 1930 to 1980 and a section of that report was titled “The Difference Made,” and in that section

you listed a number of areas where you’d made a difference and one of those was the community college movement.


SCARPINO: And you particularly talked about the commitment to the American Association of Junior Colleges.


SCARPINO: What did the Kellogg Foundation do that made a difference with the junior college movement?

MAWBY: Two things. Again, with the leadership of the association. They had established a national association of junior colleges and then while I was involved AA, it was AAJC—Junior Colleges and then it was CJC—Community and Junior Colleges and then it dropped out junior. So now it’s the American Association of Community Colleges. Anyway, they were concerned with the national leadership of the whole movement, so we helped them, their national board of directors—Ed Gleazer was the executive director at that time—strengthen their staff, strengthen their services to community colleges, strengthen their program of working with governing boards and with the officers of community colleges and that whole, so you worked with the president, with the chief academic officer, whether it was dean or provost, and with the chief financial officer.

Then the big need was for leadership for the individual campuses, and they identified 10 universities across the country that created master’s and doctor’s programs for university college, community college, presidents, academic deans, and financial officers, and we provided fellowship support at those 10—Columbia University and Michigan, it was Michigan State, Wayne State, and Michigan State, Stanford, at Texas, two universities in Florida and so forth—10 centers and at one time in the late 1960s or early 1970s, 75% of those three offices in those, all of the campuses, were Kellogg Fellows. So the challenge again was leadership for those institutions, the governance of the trustees and the professional leadership of those institutions. Our support was to the national association for their role, and their role then in creating those 10 centers at universities.

SCARPINO: So you used Kellogg’s resources to empower that national institution.

MAWBY: That’s right, exactly.

SCARPINO: And was that a general tactic, empowering other organizations to help themselves?

MAWBY: Oh, yeah. Sure. And if you looked at the health field and hospitals particularly, it was the hospital, HRET, Hospital Research in Education Trust under the American Hospital Association. See, the AHA was not an eligible grantee, but HRET was, and so a lot of the initiatives in progressive patient care, for example, moving from the hospital to the rehab center to independent living and so forth, all of those initiatives assisted by Kellogg usually were through HRET and then with the individual, university-based programs in hospital or Health Service Administration. That was a whole profession. There were two professions that grew out of the Michigan Community Health Program, that program in seven counties in the decade of the thirties.

SCARPINO: That was Mr. Kellogg’s original program.

MAWBY: That, two professions—one, hospital administration. The way, the hospital administrator was usually a doctor. Well he didn’t necessarily know anything about food service or boiler systems to keep the place warm. And so the whole profession of hospital administration, and we helped create the first 10 or 12. University of Michigan was one of the first ones and then Chicago and so forth. That whole profession. The other was with the development of the consolidated rural school system. You soon learned that just because you were a good third grade teacher or a good chemistry teacher doesn’t make you a good superintendent. And so the whole concept of educational administration, which was then headquartered really at the Ohio State University—the UCEA—Educational Administration was, grew out of, really, that Kellogg project in seven rural counties—two professions.

SCARPINO: And so in both cases it involves training leaders, professional leaders.

MAWBY: Leaders, leaders.

SCARPINO: Now in each case those initiatives pre-dated your…?

MAWBY: My arrival, yeah.

SCARPINO: And other things that were listed in that report, a whole host of areas related to health care—community health services, progressive patient care, health manpower, educational and health administration, which we’ve talked quite a bit about, but somebody told me that the Kellogg Foundation was instrumental in developing a licensed practical nurse designation.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: And was that under your tenure?

MAWBY: Well, no that really started before me, but the whole concept was, you see, you had the registered nurse, but then the licensed practical nurse was a lower level

of professional development but needed, really, credentialing in order to be sure that that person was qualified to do those tasks. And then they were concerned about articulation. So that if I become an LPN, then I can move forward from that to become an associate degree registered nurse. Don’t have to go back and study what I’ve already, skills I’ve already mastered, but those will articulate to get an associate degree and then those should articulate so that I then go on to a bachelor’s degree where the levels of science and so forth would be different. So the concern was articulation so that I don’t have to go back and learn how to clean bedpans when I’m up here getting a master’s degree because I’ve learned those in the sequence.

SCARPINO: Would you like to take a break?

MAWBY: No, I’m fine.

SCARPINO: I saw you looking at your watch, so okay.

MAWBY: No, I’m just checking to see how we’re doing on your agenda.

SCARPINO: One hour, 43 minutes, and 21 seconds.

MAWBY: There you go.

SCARPINO: I’ve got a little counter right here.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: We talked about the Kellogg Foundation with historically black public colleges.


SCARPINO: But in a related question, in 1970, when you became CEO at the Kellogg Foundation, the office and in fact the staff, the board, was virtually all white and all male except for the secretaries.

MAWBY: Yeah. There would be, there would have been professionals in, women in nursing, not in education, not in hospital, not in medicine at that time, that’s correct and I had a very senior board of trustees. Wonderful, wonderful men.

SCARPINO: Older gentlemen.

MAWBY: Older gentlemen. Very creative, very supportive. I think I said yesterday that if you did your groundwork well and had the answers to the tough questions they raised, they were supportive. So we, we were never turned down, we were never, no problem going into the black colleges and so forth, or the associate degree nursing and articulation and so forth because we thoughtfully prepared all of those.

So one of the first things I did was to, we had no retirement policy, and so talking with the board we set up a three-member committee and they came up with a recommendation that we would not stand for re-election after you reach your 72nd birthday, but we grandfathered all existing members and a wonderful man named Gifford Upjohn of the Upjohn Company, Upjohn board, and he came to his 72nd birthday and he said, you know, he said, this is the greatest board I’ve ever served on but I am going to implement the decision we made. I’m grandfathered, but I’m going to leave the board at age 72. So I set, and he said, I hope this will set the pattern for the future, and it did.

So that immediately began the transition which began very quickly. The first woman then to serve on the board was Dorothy Johnson, and a wonderful lady named Wanda Weekes Moore from the University of Minnesota board of trustees. How did I look for trustees? I wanted people that, just as we talk about, the statesperson, broadly engaged, not a single agenda, and who’d been involved, if possible, with large-scale complex organizations, and so that, and Shirley Bowser, a farm wife, if you please, from Ohio. Superb trustee of the Ohio State University, on the university board, on the local bank board. She can answer more questions about the finances. So that we very quickly began to make that transition both in staff and in the governing board.

SCARPINO: I understand, I will tell you in the interest of full disclosure that I talked to Joel Orosz.

MAWBY: Orosz, mm hmm.

SCARPINO: And we talked a little bit about the fact that not only was the Kellogg Foundation mostly white and mostly male but that generally true of foundations.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: And I wrote down what he said. He said, “Russ changed that.” [laughing]

MAWBY: Okay.

SCARPINO: So I want to talk to you about how you changed that. You mentioned the board and so on but I understand that there were two women at the Kellogg Foundation who began as secretaries and who did not have bachelor’s degrees, but then went on to work their way up to vice presidents, and you encouraged them to do that.

MAWBY: Sure.


MAWBY: I just said to Laura Davis, Laura, you know, you’ve got ambition, but if you’re going to have a career sort of beyond the secretarial role, and I said there’s not an unimportant job here. There was no unimportant job at the Kellogg Foundation. I had a job, that’s what I would say to the staff. My job was a little different than your job…

SCARPINO: But that was part of your magic as a leader, right?


SCARPINO: That was part of your magic as a leader was making people feel important about themselves.

MAWBY: Sure. Everything was important.


MAWBY: So my job is different than your job. You happen to be the maintenance engineer, whatever, but I said, Laura, if you really want a broader responsibility administratively, you need to get a bachelor’s degree, and so Laura Davis did and so did Joanne Drewno, and so we simply would encourage people to grow when they had potential.

SCARPINO: We means you.


SCARPINO: We means you. You were mentoring those women.

MAWBY: I was mentoring those fellows, but trying to create that, if you were the treasurer, you were also mentoring your subordinates as well.

SCARPINO: I talked to Lorraine Matusak.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: M a t u s a k. She had been in New Jersey.

MAWBY: Yeah, as President of Edison College.

SCARPINO: Right, and said you’d developed a leadership program for mid-career professionals.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: And she told me that you called her twice, and she said no.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: And you kept at it.

MAWBY: Yeah. She’d just made the wrong decision two times before she, can’t blame her for that.

SCARPINO: She said, she told me she was the first professional woman, not a nurse, hired at Kellogg in 1982. She spent 15 years as the Director of the Kellogg National Fellowship Program.

MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right.

SCARPINO: How in the world did you find this woman, and why were you so persistent?

MAWBY: Good luck. Well, you know, you’re just continually looking for people who have commitment, who have expertise, who have talent, and who have passion and compassion for doing something, and she’s a remarkable lady. I don’t know whether she told about, she was a Sister in the Catholic Order.

SCARPINO: No, she didn’t tell me that, no.

MAWBY: And the traditional garb in a convent in northern Minnesota.

SCARPINO: And that’s not the question you’d just ask somebody, yeah.

MAWBY: She had left there and gone to the University of Minnesota and got a degree and so forth. Ended up at Evansville doing outreach continuing education.

SCARPINO: Evansville, Indiana.

MAWBY: University of Evansville, and then was recruited as President of Thomas Edison, so there must be something with this woman that’s impressed other people, and so that’s how Lorraine happened, we had the good fortune to get her to come and head up our major initiative on leadership which was running, first of all, the Kellogg National Fellowship Program. We tried to farm that out and we didn’t find anyplace we were happy with the farmer, so we said we’re going to run it ourselves because we want it to be flexible.

SCARPINO: Kept it in-house.

MAWBY: So it was because, and again we talked with the board. We said we generally don’t operate programs but this one we need to operate.

SCARPINO: And she ran the program for 15 years.

MAWBY: 15 years, terrific job, yeah.

SCARPINO: But partly you were looking for smart and talented women.

MAWBY: Yes indeed, and people of color, anybody. You know, she’s not of color, but just, you know, the chief financial officer came to us, La June Montgomery-Talley, and now she’s remarried. A young African American. She’s just grown, and she’s now the chief financial officer of the Kellogg Foundation.

SCARPINO: National Council for Foundations, which you’ve already indicated was a national organization of foundations.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: You, I believe, identified James Joseph.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: Who was the head of Cummins Engine, which is in Columbus, Indiana, their foundation.

MAWBY: Yeah.

SCARPINO: And you really encouraged him or I guess promoted him as the first African-American to run not only the National Council for Foundations but to run a major foundation-related organization.

MAWBY: Mm hmm.

SCARPINO: He later became ambassador to South Africa.

MAWBY: Right.

SCARPINO: Why did you promote James Joseph to be the head of the National Council for Foundations?

MAWBY: Well certainly not because he was African-American. You just always look everywhere, but I never liked quotas but I like to provide opportunity, and to recognize talent and accomplishment, achievement, ability, whatever. Jim, you know, had a remarkable, he had been at the Claremont group of universities of academic background. He was with Cummins Engine doing things, impressed with him as a participating member of the Council of Foundations. He was interested in some broader role and did a superb job as head of the Council of Foundations. So I was the chair of the, I always called it the search and seizure committee.

SCARPINO: [laughing] That’s an interesting name.

MAWBY: These people always assume certain things. I can say candidly I, in my career as CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, I rented a hotel suite once, and that was in Washington to interview three candidates including Jim Joseph. Couldn’t do it at one of the offices of, because everybody would know who’s where, when, and that’s the only time I ever rented a hotel suite, so we could, as a committee, meet Jim and two other candidates successively and persuaded him to become the, simply because of his qualities, his demonstrated, his performance ability to work with people, to engage people. The kinds of things which absolutely essential in kind of a trade organization which, if you please, is what the Council on Foundations is.

SCARPINO: But he also, I mean you were also cognizant of the fact that you were promoting a very talented African-American man.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: Now when the Kellogg Foundation began to work in South Africa, he was involved.

MAWBY: He was involved because he was an ambassador.

SCARPINO: He was ambassador from 1996 to 1999.

MAWBY: Yeah. Well that was after my tenure.

SCARPINO: Okay. I read that he helped establish the Kellogg program in Africa in the 1980s and is that not correct.

MAWBY: That’s not correct.


MAWBY: No, he was not involved earlier. They, Bill Richardson, my successor, and the staff did involve Jim because he knew a lot about philanthropy, he knew a lot about foundations and he could be helpful to us in understanding culture and relationships and so forth in those. We started in five countries and then expanded to seven.

SCARPINO: Under your leadership, you broadened the charge of the Kellogg Foundation to include philanthropy and volunteerism.

MAWBY: And leadership, per se. It had always been there, and it was interesting, at that point and when we began and Lorraine then moved from running the Kellogg National Fellowship Program to be more engaged with universities, and like the International Leadership Association. An awful lot of these people here…

SCARPINO: …which you helped create, by the way.


SCARPINO: Which you helped to create.

MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. So she moved into that role. So the unending challenge, I think, is to help people, to help people in growing.

SCARPINO: I am hoping that we can schedule another session.

MAWBY: I’m not sure whether I can do it here. Let me just explain my problem. Lorraine is not here. She was going to come Monday.

SCARPINO: I’m going to hit pause here. You and I basically agreed that we’re not going to finish everything that we set out to do, and that we’re going to have to schedule a session sometime before the end of the year to talk about the situation in philanthropy and so forth in Michigan. In the meantime, I’m going to ask you some questions about leadership.

MAWBY: Okay. Good.

SCARPINO: And I asked you if you thought of yourself as a leader, and I did not successfully get the recorder going, and you said no, but I wonder if you’d give that a try again.

MAWBY: Okay. Well, yeah. No, I don’t. I recognize that I’ve apparently, do take an initiative in helping things happen, but I never think or describe myself as a leader or think myself necessarily in those terms. Simplistically, you see, I seem to think that everybody has the capacity or potential to be a leader, but the person who is going to provide leadership in relation to a situation, a problem, is quite different depending upon what the topic or the issue is, and so I simply say, my definition of a leader is simply a person who sees either an opportunity or a problem and does something about it, and we need to encourage people at the community level when they have concerns about inadequate playground facilities for their kids and need little league and so forth. People who will help make that happen are quite different than those who are going to deal with the problems and complexities of the homeless or changing the health care system and so forth. So we need leaders in all kinds of shapes and sizes and areas of interest and expertise and so forth. We need to nurture that in virtually everyone, to the extent that it’s appropriate based upon their interests, their particular abilities, their skills, their circumstances, whatever, and encourage them to be responsible and responsive in making a difference.

SCARPINO: And that’s what you did both personally and with the resources at the Kellogg Foundation.

MAWBY: That’s what I continually try to do, and so as I’ve shared very briefly, Phil, that in the complexities of dealing with all kinds of issues, I’ve kind of narrowed down to five basic sort of values that I remind myself of. I want to try to be honest in every situation and every relationship. I want to be caring and sensitive and compassionate. I want to always be respectful of the other person and their circumstances and their values and their situation. I want to be responsible for myself and my own behavior and conduct and have a sense of responsibility for the well-being and the potential and the abilities of others, and then I try to extent that I can be to always be fair. It all comes down to human relationships and the values we have in our relationships with others, and the greatest challenge as I see it in human society and in our world is the challenge of human relationships, and we see it in own communities at the most basic fundamental level of home and family, and to some extent home and family for lots of kids is unraveling and doesn’t exist to the extent it should. And then we go on from that, and that’s true globally, not just in the United States or in Michigan or in Hickory Corners where we live. If we look globally, we know that the great challenges globally are human relationships, and how do we learn to live compassionately, respectfully, one with another in a world community. So that it’s the challenge always of pursuing those values and relationships in whatever you happen to your role or responsibility at a given point in time.

SCARPINO: You were CEO of the Kellogg Foundation for a quarter of a century and by any reasonable measure an astonishing success. As you look at your own life, why do you think you were able to be successful on so many levels as the head of that foundation?

MAWBY: Well, I continue always to be grateful to the people with whom I’ve had the privilege of being associated with. It goes back to my parents. Blessed with a wonderful mom, a wonderful dad, a family that was supportive, and then along the way I’ve had a lot of wonderful women and men who have been mentors, who have been counselors, who have been exemplars if you please, encouraging, providing assistance, providing motivation, sometimes goading me to be doing better than I’ve done so far. Priceless and precious relationships through the time, and somehow out of all of that developed a sense of personal desire to be helpful and make a difference to the extent I can based upon my own assessment of what I can do, what my abilities and talents and capacity may be, and try to be honest in that because I know there are some things I don’t do well, but I try to do those things well that I feel comfortable and confident doing, and then try to exercise those abilities that circumstances and inheritance and experience and so forth have preciously provided me.

SCARPINO: Would you say that one of your strengths is the ability to identify intelligence and talent?

MAWBY: I always try to do that. I try to, I, if I come back I’m respectful of everyone and I admire craftsmen and I admire skilled workmen and whatever their role is, but yes, try to identify people who may have unusual vision, talent, ability to perceive how things might be done differently and to make a difference.

SCARPINO: It seems to me as I, in the brief amount of time I’ve spent reading background material on you and the foundation that you also have that ability to see things differently, to see potential, to see possibilities and then figure out ways to make things happen. Would that be an accurate assessment of your character?

MAWBY: Well, people tell me that. [laughter] So I never probably would describe myself in that way, but others do describe it and very often I can add a dimension in the discussion to where everything seems to be a blank wall and there’s no future, and I say well what about this or what about, have we really thought about this or have we looked at this perspective, what are the possibilities? Tend always to be optimistic about the present and the future. To have a positive attitude and yet to be realistic. Idealistic to the extent it’s realistic to be so.

SCARPINO: Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses, you know. What do you think that you are best at? Maybe better than almost anybody else?

MAWBY: [laughing]

SCARPINO: Everybody has at least one thing where, one gift.

MAWBY: Well, I suppose the ability to relate to others who may share a similar concern or an aspiration about something that ought to be or might be and then trying to be creative and productive but in realistic terms, in helping move in that direction.

SCARPINO: I’m going to read to you something that you said about yourself.

MAWBY: Uh oh.

SCARPINO: And then get you to comment. You gave an interview to Scene Magazine as you were about to step down as CEO of Kellogg, and you talked about what makes a good leader, and you said, they teach lessons, their actions help to shape the commitment and passion of an organization. Basically they need to exemplify the mission of the organization they serve and the values solidified by their actions, and then you went on to say a good leader makes volunteers or co-workers better, things he looks for or things that you look for in a leader include five primary values that you’ve already mentioned: honestly, compassion, respect, responsibility, and fairness, and then you said couple those with a guiding faith that will make a great leader. Now I want to go back and ask you. You said in the interview that I just quoted that great leaders teach lessons.

MAWBY: Great leaders…

SCARPINO: Teach lessons.


SCARPINO: What lessons have you taught?

MAWBY: [laughing] I try to teach by example rather than by rhetoric, and try in my various roles and so forth to demonstrate that the values and the principles that I think are appropriate and important, in fact are valuable and important, and demonstrate through action as well as just rhetoric in helping demonstrate that that’s true. So whether that’s working on whatever committee or role or engagement I have, try to always consistently make a difference moving in what seems to be the right direction.

SCARPINO: You told the interviewer in that article that I read that great leaders help to shape the commitment and passion of an organization.

MAWBY: Exactly.

SCARPINO: How did you do that? 2:06:54

MAWBY: Well, I did it always, I think people began to think that I was W. K. because, but the values that he expressed in his life and in his brief communications and so forth were so valuable and appropriate and timeless that they’re just as consistent and appropriate today as they were 50, 60, 75 years ago when the foundation was created. So it was simply a loyalty to the concept that I shared and probably articulated quite differently than he did, and so that some of the phraseology of that is now regarded virtually as having been his, was really of a different generation. [laughing]

SCARPINO: Give me an example.

MAWBY: Well, in most areas of human concern we know better than we do. That’s Russ Mawby, that’s not W. K., but that’s what he was doing in the Michigan community health program, that to help people help themselves. I would go further than that, you see, to accomplish things appropriate to, important to them in ways appropriate for them. I never want to impose my specifics of how you implement, how you move forward, because I respect the individual’s circumstances, the culture and all the rest. So he never articulated that in that detail but that’s the way he operated it and lived, and so for the application of knowledge, is wording from the first printed annual report, but I expand that then beyond that to really characterize what we’re trying to do is to put to use knowledge that already exists. We want to push the frontiers of new knowledge but we’re missing the boat if we don’t use that which is already known.

SCARPINO: So by the time you retired after 25 years as CEO would it be fair to say that that foundation not only reflected the vision and purpose of the founder, but the passion and vision of Russ Mawby.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: Yeah. You said that leaders need to exemplify the mission of the organization they serve. How did you do that?

MAWBY: Just by the way in which I always tried to behave, to conduct myself in my personal life. When, well, simply in all relationships and all circumstances you respect people, you relate to them openly and honestly, you’re concerned about them, you’re responsible, you expect them to be responsible also. So that when you go into a community hall in the rural community, the black community in North Carolina and they’re welcoming you and so forth and you say, well I hope someone brought the sweet potato pie, and I’m sure they did, but you relate to them based upon your understanding and your sincere and honest interest in them and their circumstances, and how they want to change life in that community for themselves and for their elders and for their kids and so forth. So you just relate to them wherever they are and then help them in their aspirations to do and have things differently.

SCARPINO: So relating to people and helping them in their aspirations was part of your leadership strategy.

MAWBY: Always.

SCARPINO: You have often presented yourself as a farmer, and…

MAWBY: But I’m always pretty honest about that, saying boy, I don’t make a living farming.

SCARPINO: No, I know that, but what I’m, here’s what I’m trying to figure out is that, would it be fair for me to conclude that part of your leadership style is not only to try to relate people, but if the CEO of Kellogg Foundation walks in in a three-piece suit and a tie that people react in one way.

MAWBY: That’s right.

SCARPINO: If Russ Mawby walks in who presents himself as a farmer, people react in another way.

MAWBY: Yeah. But I still may have my suit on with a necktie.

SCARPINO: But I mean did you understand that the way you presented yourself helped to put people at ease and to help you form relationships with them?

MAWBY: Oh, sure.

SCARPINO: Was that part of your leadership strategy?

MAWBY: It’s part of my leadership strategy is to be with them, not different than them. Not Russ Mawby from the Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek who’s got money in his pocket. It’s Russ Mawby who is here to learn about your situation, what are you doing, and are there any things that we can do to be helpful to you.

SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you a question that may seem a little bit facetious but I don’t mean it to sound that way. There is a movie a number of years ago, maybe 20 years ago, that had Robert Redford in it. It was called Sneakers. Have you ever seen that movie?

MAWBY: I don’t think I’ve seen, I don’t know that one.

SCARPINO: At the end of the movie I mean he sort of gets himself mixed up with government agents and at the end they’re sort of having the big end of the movie where he’s settling up with the government agents to get his life back and each member of his team is asking for something as they’re sort of going their own way. One wants world peace. One wants, you know, a Winnebago, and I’m wondering as the head of the Kellogg Foundation, did you ever feel that way that when you walk into a room, that everybody wanted something? And how did you deal with that?

MAWBY: No. You’re always, can be somewhat sensitive to the fact that they realize that they’ve read the annual report and they looked at all of this sort of thing. So, but I never let that dominate our conversation or our relationship. Try to keep that in perspective, realizing that the most important thing about this whole account are people and that money is incidental to accomplishing what people want to have happen, and that if they try to design their plan because they think it’s what we want, it’s not the right plan for them. The right plan for them is what they need to accomplish, and if there’s an appropriate way for us to help them we’ll try to do that.

SCARPINO: Was part of your success the ability to sort that out?

MAWBY: I think so. To think that out, definitely.

SCARPINO: You said a great leader makes volunteers and co-workers better.

MAWBY: Sure.

SCARPINO: How did you do that?

MAWBY: Just by appreciating what their role... Probably the most important life, kids in church is the Sunday school teacher more than the pastor in the pulpit. And you’ll remember more about Mrs. Smith who was your Sunday school teacher, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, than you will about all of the trappings of the church, and that volunteers in the non-profit world are the heart and the compassion and the caring, and so much of, let’s see, if you look three disappointments that I’ve had in my career so far, and one is re-stimulating caring in the caring professions. We’ve lost caring.

SCARPINO: And you’re talking about medicine, health.

MAWBY: The health professions, in education, in the whole judicial system…

SCARPINO: Where did caring go?

MAWBY: …and the social human welfare agencies and to some extent in theology. We’ve lost caring.

SCARPINO: Why do you think we lost that? Where did it go?

MAWBY: I don’t know where it went. Part of it went to bureaucracy, to endless accountability, nonsense forms detailing all sorts of time spent on this, that, and the other thing, which really filling out the form doesn’t accomplish anything at all. One of the worst things that happens in philanthropy, I think, is bureaucracy, and I refuse to have an in-house lawyer. We had to have legal advice to keep everything legal and we had to have people inside who knew enough to keep everything appropriate. But put a lawyer inside and you become endlessly bureaucratic. The forms just compound and multiply, and that’s happened at the Kellogg Foundation. Now they got forms galore that don’t produce anything.

SCARPINO: In-house lawyers.

MAWBY: That don’t produce anything. So, I don’t know where caring has gone, but the professions have lost it. We’ve institutionalized. See I think the crazy situation in Battle Creek, you see, I have a general practitioner, but when you go to the hospital they have a hospital person. My doctor can’t go to the hospital, and that’s increasingly characteristic so that the only person who puts the stuff together is me, my general practitioner sends me off to a neurologist and then a cardiologist and the only one that carts that stuff around is me and nobody ever puts me together as a whole person and won’t even follow me to my sick bed. That’s institutionalized, and the caring has, I don’t know where we’ve lost it. The biggest problem I think in our K-12 educational system now is that we have moved away from the broad perspective of education to schooling for earning a living and we’re pushing the skills of earning a living way down into the elementary grades and the only things that we measure in the Michigan Educational Improvement, the MEAP, Michigan Educational Assist, that achievement program.

SCARPINO: Their state’s standardized test.

MAWBY: Those standards are the hard scores. You could test my skill at reading. You could test my skill at math. You can do it in science, but you can’t test me for how much I care about you, for how honest I am, how caring I am, and so that we’ve changed the whole orientation of the K-12 system to earning a living rather than living in life, and the third grade teacher is measured completely upon her, how well her third grade students do math and not how civil they are in their relationships to the other kids in the room. And so we’ve spoiled society in terms of, we don’t reward doctors for being caring and compassionate at all. Nor teachers for that. It’s their scores on MEAP. So we’ve bureaucratized and we’ve legalized and we’ve, you know, we’ve become so legalistic in all our stuff that we’ve taken the heart out of many aspects of the required formal relationships.

SCARPINO: What were your other two disappointments and then we’ll wrap this up.

MAWBY: [laughing] The second one.

SCARPINO: I didn’t forget.

MAWBY: There are three. One was caring in the caring professions and I would divide that pretty roundly about the whole judicial system. I’m just appalled at what judges do to lives of kids. Rip them apart. Second, any systemic change in the K-12 system. It was institutionalized by Horace Mann here in the state of Massachusetts in 1835. He set up the school year and the school day and we still operate on an agrarian model and it’s absurd, et cetera, et cetera, so that no systemic change has been made. A lot of little dabbled but we just, it’s an archaic system set up for an agrarian society which was appropriate in 1835 and it’s archaic now. We dabbled with, but you can’t get any big, big change. And the third was how we, what was the concern of the family. And we’ve lost the vitality of the family and the lives of too many kids. And you look at, you’ve got too many kids that don’t have a home or a family. They may be living in a house, but they don’t have a home, they don’t have a family.

SCARPINO: What do you think happened?


SCARPINO: What do you think happened?

MAWBY: A variety of things. The welfare programs have done some of it. We’ve institutionalized patterns and required the disintegration of the family rather than the cohesiveness of the family just by rules and regulations and people outside the home making decisions that ought to be made in the home.

SCARPINO: Well, Russ, thank you very much.

MAWBY: So that’s a bunch of nonsense.

SCARPINO: No, it’s not nonsense. Not even close. And I really appreciate it and I will look forward to finishing this up sometime before the end of the year.

MAWBY: You’ve got all my phone numbers and everything.

SCARPINO: I’ve got your email address and I’ll get your phone number. I wouldn’t want to put your phone number on the recording. So before I turn it off, I want to, on behalf of myself and the Tobias Center and the International Leadership Association, I thank you very much for your kindness and your insight.

MAWBY: Well thank you. I hope it’s been, for me it’s been stimulating and…