SCARPINO: Today is December 3rd, 2010. My name is Philip Scarpino. I am interviewing Mr. Russell Mawby who was the Executive Director of the Kellogg Foundation for about 25 years. This is the third interview with Russ. We are sitting in his study in the basement of his home in Hickory Corners or Augusta, Michigan, which he prefers Hickory Corners, and Russ, I’d like to ask your permission to record this interview, to have the interview transcribed, and to deposit the transcription and the recording in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives for the use of their patrons.
MAWBY: I’m pleased to authorize that indeed.
SCARPINO: Okay, and as I said in my lead-in, this is our third session and you were kind enough to show me around your study here before we had lunch, and on the wall behind me is a picture of some horseshoes and I wonder if you could tell me a little, tell me the story about your trotters for the record.
MAWBY: Oh gosh, yeah. Well when I was a kid I always, at the county fair, really enjoyed the county fair harness racing with the harness horses, and as is evident again from the artifacts around this room I’ve been a horse enthusiast, never a real expert but just an enthusiast, loved horses. So thought that someday wouldn’t it be fun to have at least a partial interest in a harness horse participating in county fair racing.
So in 1985 when I identified a wonderful gentleman from the Upper Peninsula who had been in that business as an avocation all of his life, and so became a partner with him in harness racing. The four shoes that have been placed on the wall as a special remembrance are the shoes that were worn by a two-year old trotting colt that Jack McCracken and I had. The horse’s name was Shiaway Juan, and we, we’re just blessed that he was in a group of two-year old trotting colts in that year that he did beautifully and ended up as the champion two-year old trotting colt in Michigan for that year. Now those are the shoes that he, usually they’re used shoes for just about two weeks. Those are the shoes that he wore in winning two big races. One was the Spartan Futurity and the other was a colt futurity race in which the purse was $90,000 and he won it.
So those are the shoes that he wore at that time and just, it was wonderful. I enjoyed the horse people as well as the horses. Kelly Goodwin, the young man who was our trainer/driver was just a great young man. But you met people of all walks of life, and most of the people in the harness horse business, they’re completely different than thoroughbred racing, the Kentucky Derby and so forth. Most of the people in the harness horse are really in small business. They’re owners, they’re trainers, they’re drivers. Just kind of salt of the earth kind of people and I just enjoy them, and it’s those kind of contacts that I’ve always found useful in my work in the profession of keeping in touch with what’s going on in life in different circles than I operate in regularly.
SCARPINO: Just for the record, the horse’s name is Shiaway Juan?
MAWBY: Shiaway Juan.
SCARPINO: S h i a w a y J u a n.
MAWBY: Yeah. Shiaway is the name of a great breeding farm in Michigan at that time. And Juan, I don’t know where that came from but there he was.
SCARPINO: And this was a futurity race?
MAWBY: A futurity, f u t u r i t y, a futurity race. That’s a pocket pool in which all of the owners pay in. You start by buying into the futurity race when the baby is born. If you think he or she has promise you put in a hundred dollars and that builds up and then ends up with substantial purses two and three years later.
SCARPINO: So Shiaway Juan was pretty successful. I see on the plaque up here that his earnings were $102,216.
MAWBY: That’s right.
SCARPINO: So was the thrill the racing, the training, or meeting the people on all walks of life, or…?
MAWBY: It was really the people and the horses. Shiaway Juan—some of the horses, you know, are very spirited—he was just a sweet horse. So I could go over where he was stabled with Kelly Goodwin and could drive training, the horses are trained six days a week, and so you would go out and jog them for a morning warm-up and so forth. I never drove in a race but it was always fun to drive the horses in training or then in timed, you see you start slow. They started march, just running a slow mile and then have to continue moving right on faster. All the training miles are timed and so they drive with a stopwatch in their hand and it’s fun to be out there with the horses and the people.
SCARPINO: So the little cart behind is called a sulky?
MAWBY: Yeah, called a sulky.
SCARPINO: And did you ride the sulky?
MAWBY: Sure, ride the sulky, oh yeah, and Juan was one of the horses that I would drive because he was just dependable. Sometimes other horses would, when you’re just jogging to warm them up, other horses would go faster and he would always want to take off and you’d have to slow him down because he wasn’t supposed to be going that fast yet, but he didn’t like to have anyone pass him.
SCARPINO: When we visited in Boston we actually spent a fair amount of time talking about your farming interests and one of those things you mentioned was your love for Arabian horses and we actually talked a little bit about that and how you ended up with some horses that were descended from Mr. Kellogg’s farm in California.
MAWBY: That’s right.
SCARPINO: But what I didn’t know and what I learned a little while ago is that you had a favorite Arabian, and that horse’s picture is on your wall behind us.
MAWBY: Oh, sure.
SCARPINO: And you explained to me how you actually owned that horse twice.
MAWBY: That’s right. That was great.
SCARPINO: And part of it deals with your retirement and what your colleagues thought about you, so could you share that story with us?
MAWBY: Well, yes. This was, I bought a nice mare from Cal Poly Pomona, from the old Kellogg line breeding, a mare named Alowa and she was a sweet young mare, good conformation, good, wonderful disposition. I always want horses that are people-friendly and she was just a marvelous, and we bred her to a great stallion out in Arizona and she had a baby girl. We named the baby Bask Aylowa. The horse’s name was Bask, B a s k, and he became the Polish import Arabian stallion who sired more champion Arabians than any other horse in the history of the breed.
SCARPINO: Now that was your horse?
MAWBY: No, that was not my horse. That was the, the mare was the one that went to that horse and was bred to him. So this was a Bask daughter, which in Arabian terms was very important at that period of time. That would have been back in the seventies and eighties. And so she was a great foal and a beautiful baby, and we enjoyed her, worked with her, had her with trainers for showing and so forth. And the Arabian breed sort of went crazy pricewise in the seventies and eighties, and she became just too valuable for me just to pet and keep here, so we consigned her to a special sale in Scottsdale.
MAWBY: Scottsdale, Arizona, and they have a special sales arena and promotions and so forth. In order to have a seat in the auction pavilion you had to have an approved line of credit of a hundred thousand dollars. So you could see this was pretty rich stuff for this little old farm boy with two Arabians—one mama and the daughter. And so she sold in that sale and went upstate New York and then moved to Florida then to Alabama and back to Florida.
Two things happened. One, the Arabian market changed dramatically, and it was just good fortunate that I had her in the sale in 1984 which was the highest record of the sale years. 1985 it started down. So two things happened. The market deteriorated, and second, she got older and so I began to contact the people with whom she ended up to see if I might get her back because they had no sentimental attachment to my mare Bask Aylowa. I wasn’t successful in doing that, but when I retired in 1995, the community, not the foundation, the community, sponsored a special recognition which they called “A Day at the Farm with Ruth and Russ,” and so the invitations were to come in casual clothes, wear your overalls, your coveralls, and come to dinner with Ruth and Russ. Twelve hundred people came to the Kellogg arena for a good old red and white tablecloth dinner. You could have been at a good country, because we had ham and chicken and homemade pie and all the trimmings. So it was a wonderful celebration, recognition, by the community to Ruth and me and they had us sitting on a stage in our rocking chairs and suddenly they started to, they’d had various presentations and Mr. Kellogg, an impersonator, had appeared, and the…
SCARPINO: Was he any good?
MAWBY: He was good, yeah, he was a good character, and so the, it was a special evening of appreciation, and suddenly they started to show a film of Bask Aylowa and I said to Ruth, what are they doing showing a picture of Aylowa? Well she didn’t know anything about it of course. She couldn’t understand that either, and then suddenly, in came the horse, and there she was in splendid shape. She was then 19 years old. She was eight years old when we sold her. She’d been gone 11 years.
And so in came Bask Aylowa with a good friend of mine, and with Kelly Goodwin with whom I worked with harness horses, because the horse had been purchased in Florida and brought north. She was in bad shape and they’d gotten her, she’d not been well cared for or groomed. They, she was, fit just beautifully. They came in just classy and she was used to the crowd and the noise and everything. So I jumped off the stage and ran over and threw my arms around her neck, and then I said Aylowa, let’s shake hands, and up came her right front foot because she and I had always done that. I had taught that, or each of my Arabians always shook hands with me and she remembered after 11 years, and so it was an emotional moment and then she was here at the farm until two years ago. She was 32 then when she passed away. So it was just special. The community had located her and bought her, brought her back, and gave her to Ruth and me. So she was special.
So you can see now we’re here down and I had standardbreds, that’s the breeding of the harness racehorses, Arabians, and then the third breed, Haflingers, which are an Austrian breed, really large mountain pony or a small mountain horse. They look like Belgians, the big chestnut horses with a white mane and tail, but great, again, people disposition, and so I had a stallion and mares and raised young ones and had a hitch that we used on the sleigh in the winter and the wagons in the summer and so forth. So horses have been a big part of life here at the farm. We call the farm Rimy Mead. That started with R M because we had my initials, because we had to use the initials in breeding Hereford cattle and that goes back to oxen and we won’t repeat that story. But R M, I wanted a farm name then. Mead of course is Meadow, and Rimy is an old English term for frosty. So Rimy Mead farm is really frosty meadow and if you look out the window, Phil, you’ll see the frosty meadow down at the foot of the hill.
SCARPINO: We’re looking out the window, and I see a gray squirrel and about an inch of snow.
MAWBY: That’s right. If you look harder you’re likely to see a black one because they’re around here also.
SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you if you can spell the name of the mama horse and the daughter. The mama horse for starters.
MAWBY: The mother was Alowa, A l o w a. The sire was Bask, B a s k, and if you want to be accurate you’ll put a, what do you call it, at the, an apostrophe at the beginning of the name.
SCARPINO: Okay, yeah.
MAWBY: And the daughter’s name is Bask Aylowa, B a s k A y l o w a.
SCARPINO: Okay. The transcriber will be singing your praises.
MAWBY: Yeah, it’s Bask Aylowa. Great. And I’ve spelled Rimy Mead, R i m y and M e a d.
SCARPINO: Right. Last time we talked a great deal about philanthropy in different contexts and obviously and I tipped you off before I turned the recorder on that I was going to ask you if you could reflect a little bit about how philanthropy in the United States might be similar to or different from philanthropy in other parts of the world.
MAWBY: Well I think, you know, and I don’t regard myself as an expert on this at all, just an interested and very committed amateur to the whole field of philanthropy, which I defined as including all of the activities related to private initiatives for the public good. It’s the giving of time, the giving of talent, the giving of treasure, money, to serve public purposes, and it’s the voluntary giving. And I think it became a part, if I understand correctly, of American society really growing out of the early days. When people came from the old cultures of Europe, where they had governments and universities and churches and schools and all of those institutions of government for centuries, came to this great continent where none of that development had taken place, and they had the Native American culture with their lifestyle and their institutions very often not permanent buildings and communities and so forth but just a different culture completely.
So you came and got off the boat in New England and on the east coast and if you began to establish farms and you began to produce and so forth, if you wanted to make improvements as a community it was all voluntary. You had no government to turn to and so communities then began to work together. They would establish a church and they would establish a school. All education including higher education started with private initiative, and so all of the great old universities in this country—the Harvards and the Yales and the, were all private institutions before public resources were developed to public education and higher education.
And so all of those institutions developing the streets and bridges and all of the other things were initially private initiatives and then of course began to establish the colonies with governmental structures with leadership sent in from England when this was the colonies of Great Britain and so then they began to establish the governmental pattern, but the pattern of social private initiative for the public good was very important and so they’d established really a cultural difference here and as far as I could understand in my extended experience in Latin America, for example, the church, the Catholic Church in particular, took on a certain set of responsibilities beyond government for social and human welfare, but it was not a built-in expectation for individuals, even individuals of wealth to contribute in a more general way. And certainly it was not a tradition in the old countries of Europe, Africa, different traditions and so forth. So that the concept of private initiative for the public good became, I think, more strongly developed here, and we recognize that now in our society.
I usually think in terms of sort of three broad sectors. One sector of society, of course, is the private for-profit business and industry. That’s the economic generator which produces all of the resources for support of government, and the resources for private philanthropy as well. The second sector, of course, is government, and it’s important at all levels that we have it in our state, townships, and villages and cities and counties and state government and federal government, and very important, the contributions of government and over time that sort of waxes and wanes for a period of time. We have an expansion of what we think is proper for government to do and then very often that diminishes and then it increases and so forth. So over time the understanding and agreement by people about the proper role for government changes and in general it’s been expanding in the American tradition.
And then the third sector is the nonprofit sector, and it’s the, again the private initiatives for the public good, and I always feel as I look at the community level, much of the character or the personality of the community is determined to a large extent by those private initiatives. Now very often they’re collaborative between private initiative with some government support of various kinds and in various ways, but if you think in most communities, most of the cultural activities are private initiatives. Most of the recreational activities include private as well as maybe public lands and public schools and so forth, but a lot of the recreational activities are.
Most of the health services originally were private initiatives. Gradually the public role has expanded but in health services there are still a lot of very important contributions privately made, both in the public institutions and in the various ways for Now Independent Living and Meals on Wheels and on and on goes the list. If we look at education, higher education, we have the richness of great public institutions and of private institutions and their role can be somewhat different and I think it’s a blessing that we do have those alternatives. We’ve never in this country had a major development of private initiatives for public K-12 education. We have some, but basically public support has provided the kindergarten through the twelfth grade, and maybe we need to do more experimenting because I think part of the richness of higher education is that there are the options and the alternatives, and maybe we ought to think of strengthening the non-public alternatives at earlier ages and perhaps particularly at what we would now would say, is early childhood.
So as I view American philanthropy, it’s been a major contributor, the engagement of citizens and the governing boards hiring professionals and staff but engaging also volunteers in very many aspects of the activities and the services, provides an element of caring and involvement that influences the quality of what is really accomplished, so that it’s been a major contributor, I think, at community level and then in aggregate to state and national levels.
Had some interesting experiences in Europe a few years ago. We became involved with the Salzburg Seminar in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg Seminar started after World War II. Was an initiative by, I think, just two or three young men who had served in the Army, and they felt that somehow the European people that they became acquainted with through the war and after the war ought to know American people better and we ought to come to know them. So they established the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies at a beautiful facility, a big old home in Salzburg. I don’t know if you’ve been there or not.
SCARPINO: I’ve not, no.
MAWBY: Sometime you need to include that because it was a rich experience and still is. But the original concept was to invite people from European countries there and the faculty always from the United States to come and talk and share the brilliance of our experiences and ideas with them and that was a useful phase, but gradually then, and when we, the Kellogg Foundation begin working with them in a limited way, they had come to us with an initiative of helping them reach into Eastern Europe because they had been limited by the Iron Curtain and so forth in their participation, but when that changed they wanted to engage people from Eastern Europe coming to their seminar.
SCARPINO: So this was after the Soviet Union fell.
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. It’s fairly recently. And we agreed but we talked with them and they had been gradually changing so that they wanted faculty and participants from both countries engaged in Salzburg Seminars scheduling seminars on special topics in the fields of education and environment and health and all of the environmental issues and so forth. And so we identified our particular willingness of support in terms of the three major components of the Foundation’s programming at that time.
First was in health, very broadly; education, again very broadly; and third with food systems and the quality of rural life, because as we think of the developing countries and as we think of the great need, food is of course the first component of human health and well-being. So we agreed to concentrate on those areas and to bring people definitely from Eastern Europe and to subsidize scholarships for that kind of participation. I attended one of those conferences looking at rural and agricultural issues, and it was interesting that to talk with people from the countries that had been free, you know, since 1900, the level of independence and so forth. In those countries they had had a lot of community involvement and participating in community engagement with what we would call philanthropy.
Those countries then that had become Communist early, and then in the twenties and the thirties and through the forties and fifties and sixties, the countries that had moved into the Communist empire at the end of World War II had people there who remembered when the community used to take an initiative in dealing with problems, instead of just saying we go to the committee or we go to government. If we want to have a playground in our community we don’t think of doing it ourselves, we go to the authorities to expect them to do it because government did everything. So they had a tradition that they could refer back to, at least their parents or grandparents talked about, when they had had a different engagement, and so the level of understanding of what we were talking about in voluntary participation, giving of time, giving of our talent, sharing our expertise, giving of our money for
purposes beyond the payment of taxes, was something that was unfamiliar to them and it seems to me that as we look globally there has been a growth and an understanding of private initiatives for the public good. You can sense it in Latin America, certainly. You can sense it in Europe increasingly, and for example, now just as we have a Council on Foundations in Washington D.C. that brings together the organized grant makers of foundation styles. There’s a European Council of Foundations now in Brussels. And that’s an outgrowth of this kind of cultural change over time.
SCARPINO: When you were talking about the three sectors, you talked about business and industry, government, and the nonprofit, and you said that you thought the role of nonprofit was to shape the character and personality of a community.
MAWBY: Well, that, no, that I thought a lot of what contributes to the personality and character of the community is the engagement of the nonprofit sector.
SCARPINO: So, the question I wanted to ask you is when you were head of the Kellogg Foundation, did you see yourself in the business of helping people shape the character of their community?
MAWBY: Helping them shape the character of the community in the way in which they wished to shape it. We never, I never had the feeling that we had better answers than they had, but if they were concerned about early childhood development and wanted to do something differently because of the changing family structure or the difference in parental responsibility and performance, if they wanted to do something about that, we’d be willing to help them do it. We didn’t set that as our goal, it had to be theirs. We didn’t have something we wanted to impose on society, but we wanted to simply be able to, our, the way we worded it starting with Mr. Kellogg, was to help people help themselves, and if they had aspirations regarding improving their schools, expanding their library resources, recreational, cultural opportunities for people of all ages, but his focus was always on kids, brightening the future for youngsters, that if they wanted to do that, fine.
We don’t, the Foundation never had a special agenda other than helping people help themselves, and the key was through the application of knowledge and other resources to improve the quality of their lives and that of future generations. And you see, Mr. Kellogg was concerned as they began to establish the Kellogg Foundation back in 1930 when he made the decision to move forward with that commitment of his fortune, they looked at what was going on in society, what some of the issues were, how they were being addressed by other foundations and so forth, and decided that the real challenge was to put to use that which will renew, that in most areas of human concern we know a whale of a lot better than we’re doing. We know more about what good education could be and should be than is generally experienced. We know more about what good health care could be and should be than is available to most people.
So the emphasis has always been on the application of knowledge, making people aware of what knowledge is available to them if they will put it to use. And it would be exciting, for example, if we could restructure the K-12 experience, educational experience, based upon what we really know. We’ve institutionalized so many things which are counter to the knowledge base that we ought to be implementing.
SCARPINO: When we talked in Boston, one of the themes that emerged from our conversations was your personal interest in and recognition of the value of leadership.
SCARPINO: And you worked for your, you know, a large part of your career to foster the development, nurture leadership development and you also of course received a very significant award from the International Leadership Association which we’ve talked about. So you were, through the Kellogg Foundation, involved with James MacGregor Burns in creating the Center for Leadership Study there at University of Maryland and also in creating the International Leadership Association?
MAWBY: The foundation was helpful.
SCARPINO: Yeah. Would you talk about…
MAWBY: It was not our idea, it was their idea, but we helped them.
SCARPINO: Can you talk about the relationship between the Foundation and the creation of the Burns Leadership Center at the University of Maryland and the International Leadership Association?
MAWBY: Well, you see, that was just one aspect of the total foundation. I’ve always appreciated the role of leadership. Again, there are so many theories of leadership and aspects of leadership and you can talk with experts and get all sorts of insights and ideas. Simplistically I’ve always felt that a leader is anyone who sees either a problem or any opportunity and does something about it. And so then you can get all sorts of theories implementing on leadership styles and so forth and that’s fine. So at the Foundation and I’ll give you this background just as a basis for how we got involved in those two instances. One of the observations that I began to observe was that as a society, as we were looking broadly at issues in the health field for example, and the environment and the relationship of food systems with environmental concerns, all aspects of education and the importance of early childhood, et cetera, we were benefiting from great specialization, but it became apparent as requests came to us we had bright, young specialists who would come up with an idea. They would analyze the problem and do a beautiful job of documenting the problem and what their idea was to do something about it, but then their approach to solving the problem, dealing with the problem, was very narrow based upon their particular specialty, and none of the really significant problems can be solved with any one specialty, and the key to leadership then, is to recognize your own expertise and then to identify the other resources, knowledge resources that are necessary to deal with that problem and to be successful in recruiting people from those other interests to help you design the solution.
So we designed the Kellogg National Leadership Program beginning in 1980, which was the 50th anniversary of Mr. Kellogg’s W. K. Kellogg Foundation, to identify a cadre each year of about 40 to 50 young people. Well, what do we mean by young people? People in their late twenties to thirties who had already established themselves with some credibility and reputation in their particular specialty, whether that’s nuclear physics or economics or surgery or theology or music, whatever it may be, who had developed some reputation and expertise substance there, but then to provide a broadening experience for them to develop skills so that they could relate to other specialists, appreciate the fact that we need to get people out of communications and out of psychology and political science and so forth, economics and business and so forth, engaged in our concern if we’re going to deal with this problem.
And so the pattern was to identify people from a broad variety, and many of them in academic institutions, in non-profit organizations, in business to the extent we could, in government, to provide them a broadening experience over a three-year period of time with 25% of their time committed to the Kellogg National Fellowship Program. And this included seminars, it included designing a special research or study initiative on their own, but they had to specialize or concentrate on something different than their own specialty. So if you were a chemist you couldn’t go deeper in your specialty. You needed to go into sociology or communications or whatever your interest was—classical music. And I used to say to them in their first session we want to have yourself, you should indulge yourself intellectually. Do some things and engage, and in that process then, we provided them a series of seminars looking at environmental issues, health care, some of the most vivid experiences I remember fellows talking about would be spending a night in the emergency room in a hospital in a big city to see what the problems of society and of people and families and individuals really were. To spend their time, some time in penal institutions and obviously in the U.S. getting around urban rural, spend time on a farm in Appalachia and so forth, and then national experiences and international experiences to broaden their perspective.
Well that has been exciting to see the impact of those experiences upon individuals and their careers. That led us then to, and when we started in this, Phil, in the academic circles, there was still great disagreement about whether there were any skills of leadership or any concept of leadership which can be taught. It was a great cadre of people who said leaders are born, and if you weren’t born into leadership there’s no chance of your being a leader. My own perspective was completely different than that. And this is a farm kid who watched people and what they did, and there were a lot of people who were leaders who obviously weren’t born into that position of leadership and they were dealing with all sorts of issues, concerns, locally and state and national, and if you look at leadership in business or in higher education and so forth, it was just obvious to me that there are certain skills which can be encouraged, nurtured, and taught. And so we began then to move from our own, this was a variation.
From time to time the Foundation did initiate and operate programs for a while, and this was the Kellogg National Fellowship Program, operated for about 20 years. We then began to, began to have contacts with people who were students of leadership and began to recognize that there was opportunity to encourage centers for leadership development like the one that you just mentioned, Dr. Burns, and so we began to provide support then to academic institutions nurturing that concept. It’s exciting to me now just looking at university catalogs that you find in most colleges now, college of medicine, college of law, of engineering, of business, of agriculture, social studies and so forth, leadership is now becoming a recognized component of education, where it was not in those catalogs at all, virtually 20 years ago, and so we were a part of nurturing that. So the center at the University of Maryland was one example. There are others. And out of that initiative and you see, things always happen simply because of people. People are the important ingredient. We were blessed at the Kellogg Foundation with a remarkable leader, Dr. Lorraine Matusak.
SCARPINO: Right. She was the head of the Kellogg Fellowship Program.
MAWBY: The Kellogg National Fellows Program and then moved from that and Dr. Roger Sublett who was also with us in Boston at that breakfast with, where I was in attendance, but Lorraine was a great leader in that program, became an internationally-recognized leader in leadership, and then led that initiative in working with colleges and universities, and that then led, of course, to thinking of we need some sort of a professional association, organization, and that’s the International Leadership Association.
So the Kellogg Foundation’s role and the need for that really grew then out of the practitioners, the academicians, the scholars, saying we need this kind of a forum and so the Foundation, as I’ve always said, foundations can’t really create anything, they can only assist people who want to do something. And so we’ve been able to assist the association. It’s been based at the University of Maryland, but it’s, that’s simply its home at this point in time in the sense it’s its own organization obviously, with its own board and governing board.
SCARPINO: Now did the Foundation provide the startup grant for the International Leadership Association?
MAWBY: I think they provided funding and much of that you see has come about in the last 15 years since I retired. But the momentum was there and the work with the universities, with the people who were creating, in a sense, the leadership field. You and I were at Boston and three others were honored. I felt blessed to be with them because I recognize their names as, I describe them as intellectual pillars in the leadership field. They’re the ones that have been cultivating theory and research and study and so forth, the creation of a body of knowledge, broadly, that’s beneficial in encouraging leadership really in a variety of ways at all levels.
SCARPINO: We should probably name them for the benefit of people who listen to this. So it was Fred Fiedler and the other one was?
MAWBY: Edwin Hollander and Jean Lipman-Blumen. So I can give you those names and the spelling. Maybe you have those. But you see they were real stellar. Each of them with different theory, different approach, each making a contribution. But you see, if you look at problems of health organization, for example, at the community level, you have to get a variety of people involved. You need people from the health professions. One of the intriguing things to me that I always discuss with health professionals is how did the problems of teeth, the dental problems, get separated from the rest of the body, and I’ve learned why that happened. It was a faculty vote before the civil war that said dentistry is not a profession, dentistry is a trade like hairdressing and barbering and blacksmithing.
SCARPINO: In fact, sometimes it was the barber who pulled your teeth. [laughter]
MAWBY: Back in the olden days.
SCARPINO: Literally, yes.
MAWBY: That’s right. So anyway, that’s how that happened. Anyway, but you’ve got to get people from business. You’ve got to get people from the community more largely and so forth to bring about change, and the people who need to provide leadership there are quite different than the ones who are saying we need some after-school activities in our neighborhood. We need a playground because the kids don’t have anything to do. And the folks that are going to make that happen are leaders in my judgment. But their skills and their contributions are very specific.
SCARPINO: Do you think there’s any danger that the study of leadership could become another specialization?
MAWBY: I suppose so. I don’t know. But, you know, you’d wish that there would continue to be enough interaction within intellectual circles to appreciate the contributions which the different ones make, and unless folks concerned with leadership are concerned with what difference that means to the quality of life for people, it’s hard to justify the profession.
SCARPINO: You and I have had the opportunity and I’ve had the privilege to talk with you on a wide range of subjects related to your career, to the Kellogg Foundation, and what I’d like to do now is to switch and talk about the impact of the Kellogg Foundation and your personal impact on philanthropy and volunteerism and leadership here in the state of Michigan.
MAWBY: I’ll give you my perspective. [laughter] You’ve talked with some other folks and some notion of that.
SCARPINO: Well, I mean in the interest of full disclosure in case anybody is listening to this part and hasn’t heard the first two parts, I did talk to six of your colleagues…
MAWBY: Colleagues. People who have known me a lot time.
SCARPINO: …who fed me lines and for which I’m very grateful. In 1972 you and the Kellogg Foundation played a key role in the creation and launching of the Council of Michigan Foundations.
MAWBY: Yeah, mm hmm.
SCARPINO: And I’m wondering if you could start in talking to us about how that came into existence by going back to the Tax Reform Act of 1969. How did that influence your interest in creating the Council of Michigan Foundations?
MAWBY: All right, good. Well, very briefly, as a reminder, I joined the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in December of 1964, practically in 1965, as Director of the Division of Agriculture, and at that time the Foundation was organized in seven programming divisions and I was head of one of the seven. A couple years later, to my surprise, they broadened my responsibility to be Agriculture—and Agriculture was really food systems and rural community life—and Education, and then a year later Vice President responsible for all programs including the health categories which were medicine, public health, dentistry, nursing, and hospital administration. So my responsibilities broadened. 1969 then, in Washington, was the windup of a long congressional consideration of the world of philanthropy and the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which had major impact, implications, on the world of philanthropy in this country.
SCARPINO: And we’d talked about that in conjunction with the Kellogg Foundation.
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. And so the, it was apparent that this was real. A lot of very positive provisions, I felt, but there were some which caused concern, but everybody who was engaged in philanthropy needed to be understanding of what the new ground rules were so that they could be responding to them responsibly, and could be organized to communicate if there were concerns about changes which needed to be considered and so forth. And then, so I had not really been involved in that at all in my foundation duties. Dr. Morris, who was our president and chief executive officer, had been engaged in hearings in Washington in a limited way and Dr., well and Bill Baldwin who was then the president of the Kresge Foundation over in Detroit had invited a small group of foundation leaders to a luncheon meeting to talk about what was going on in Washington and Dr. Morris invited me to go along. So I’d been in that September meeting, began to learn a little bit about what was being considered. Then in the summer of 1970, after the passage of the act in 1969, I was named the president as successor to Dr. Morris as the president and CEO. So then life had to become real and I had responsibility.
SCARPINO: Maybe more real.
MAWBY: Yeah. More real. I would be responsible for the Kellogg, becoming knowledgeable about the provisions, the Act, and to be sure we were in compliance, to be in a position to provide leadership more broadly in the state of Michigan. We were the largest of the private grant makers in the state and had always been a participant but a fairly quiet participant, because there had not been any initiative to work together, really. They had never met regularly. Never talked about kind of policy issues at the national or state level, had never talked about programming. Once in a while you’d work together with another foundation in a mutual area of interest and so forth.
So I, when I got this new set of responsibilities, we realized very quickly that we in Michigan in the world of philanthropy didn’t know each other really well and we didn’t know the extent of private foundation activity in the state. We didn’t know how many foundations there were and who they were. There were at that time very few community foundations, and one of the provisions, major provisions, of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 implemented a structure of encouraging community foundations, and I felt that that was an opportunity that we ought to take advantage of in the state of Michigan to encourage that development across the state.
So I called Bill Baldwin who had invited us to that previous meeting, and said Bill, well now we’ve got the Tax Reform Act and we need to do something.
We don’t know each other in Michigan, shouldn’t we think about having a meeting to get acquainted and begin to see how we work together and how we respond, etc. and Bill said very graciously, gosh, you know, I had that luncheon, you better call the next one so, which I proceeded to do. We identified the large foundations, were obviously the Kresge Foundation, the Mott Foundation, the C. S. Mott Foundation in Flint, the Kellogg Foundation, the Dow family interest in Midland, and a number of other than, more family foundations and some corporate grant makers and some community foundations, and so simply invited, identified about a dozen representatives of those types to come together for a meeting, out of which, which we simply talked about here are some of the provisions of the act that we need to be aware of, we need to learn to live with, and would there be benefit to the meeting and agreed that there would be, and of course since I called this luncheon meeting I was designated to follow through in providing leadership for the first statewide meeting where we would try to identify anyone who was involved with such a foundation, invite them to a meeting of this kind.
And so we proceeded to arrange what we called the Conference of Michigan Foundations. We weren’t sure whether we wanted a continuing organization, but we needed to get together and about 125 people, I think, came to that first meeting. We invited officers, staff members, trustees, whoever might come from various organizations, and had a good meeting, good turnout. We met in Ann Arbor and had good representation, but one of the things we did was to have a specialist work with us on thinking through together how we wanted to move from this meeting to the future, and so at each meal session when we had groups at round tables of six or eight people, we had a question which led us from the first meeting—it was a three-day session so we would have had six or eight meetings, something like this—we were able to end up saying yes, we had concluded, we did want to meet again, and we wanted out of this meeting to have people indicate their willingness to assist in three different initiatives.
One was planning the next meeting, where it would be and what the topics would be, resource people, et cetera. A second committee to think about did we want to think of an organization. Did we want to move from being a conference to being a council or an organization of Michigan foundations? And third, if we moved, the third study group was if we thought of becoming an association or an organization, how might it be funded? What would be some logical way of thinking about participation? So we ended up agreeing that we would move ahead, and we had indications of people’s willingness to serve on one or another of those groups, and so we moved forward. We then moved at the second meeting to the establishment of an organization called the Council of Michigan Foundations, had moved then in planning to putting together a structure of representation and so forth, and became CMF. Had a part-time executive director who had been involved with, I think, with a foundation in Grand Rapids, and then she and her husband moved to San Diego, and that was a long commute. But there was a bright young lady…
SCARPINO: That’s when you made one of the great finds of…?
MAWBY: Of, great finds. It’s always people that make a difference. Attending our first conference of Michigan was a member of the board of trustees of Grand Haven, Michigan Community Foundation, the Grand Haven Community Foundation, Dorothy Johnson. Dottie, a remarkable young lady. She and her husband had two daughters and they were living in Grand Haven where the family business, the Johnson family business was located but Dottie was very engaged in the community, very interested in the Council as it became organized, and when we approached her about becoming the executive director she said I’d love to do that if the headquarters could be in Grand Haven, because Martin and I are committed to this community and having our girls grow up here. And so that’s why, still, the Council of Michigan Foundation…
SCARPINO: You moved the headquarters.
MAWBY: …is located in Grand Haven. The community helped, community foundation there helped, the foundation in the community helped with some space. That got us started and they now have a location in Lansing and in Detroit, quite appropriately, but Dottie Johnson was a remarkable leader in the state, in the Council, and then at the national level, because simultaneously I became concerned with structures at the national level.
I became engaged with, there were three national entities of philanthropy, in a sense—the Council of Foundations at the national level, independent sector, which brings together the grant makers and the doers, and then the foundation center headquartered in New York City, which is the information clearinghouse on philanthropy, autonomous, independent information knowledge center. So I became active in those and got Dottie engaged, of course, representing Michigan. The Michigan Council has done a remarkable job of leadership in the state by setting a pattern nationally for other regional associations and helping in developing some national initiatives which have been very important over time. So that was the Council of Michigan Foundation, just a response saying we do need to know, and then, over time, there have been, became involved in policy matters at the national level, Michigan’s participation with the national organization but also within Michigan, as in many states, increased interest in the nonprofit sector broadly with volunteerism, with philanthropy, the attorneys general concerned with legal aspects and regulation, but broadly then legislators concerned with private initiative.
SCARPINO: So they were lobbying the legislature?
MAWBY: Sure, sure. Educating the legislature, please.
SCARPINO: I knew that. Can you explain in a few sentences for the purposes of somebody who doesn’t know what the mission of the Council of…
MAWBY: Council of Michigan Foundation?
SCARPINO: Yeah, what’s its stated purpose? What is it supposed to do?
MAWBY: I think its purpose is to encourage private philanthropy for the public good, the giving of not just treasures but particular concern with the financial aspects of grant making because that’s where the greatest opportunity for abuse and so forth does come in. Giving of time and talent is quite a different dimension of giving for the public good. But it’s to encourage people to give of time and talent and treasure for the public good to encourage the families of means to consider establishing, either within then a community foundation or within their own family, a family foundation, to provide training and consultation regarding philanthropy, legal structure, organizations which, for example, one of the major initiatives of CMF now is with family foundations to help in the generational aspect. You’ve got the senior generation that created the fortune, and then you’ve got the successive generations and how you make the transition in leadership in the philanthropy within the family, get the family members engaged in childhood and adolescence and young adulthood working with the senior members of the family and so forth, if there are those kinds of resources. But engaging young people broadly at the community level particularly through community foundations in, again, being involved as, we have every community foundation in Michigan has a youth advisory council of teenagers, junior high, but particularly high school students, who become engaged as youth advisory council to the community foundation board.
SCARPINO: I’m actually going to ask you if you could talk about the youth advisory councils.
SCARPINO: And I’m going to preface that by actually by throwing a bit of information in here. You and I have talked earlier about Dorothy Johnson and your role in identifying her and mentoring her so that if anybody’s listening to this they can go back and look for that information, but I also know that you and the Kellogg Foundation were involved with the Council of Michigan Foundation in creating these youth councils.
SCARPINO: And so can you talk about that process?
MAWBY: Oh, sure.
SCARPINO: But not being too modest, because part of this was your idea. [laughing]
MAWBY: Yeah, part of it, well, no, I don’t usually want to take the blame or credit for my ideas, either one.
SCARPINO: I’ve got my secret prompt notes here.
MAWBY: Okay, well let me say the Council of Michigan Foundations started with the foundations and so forth and we had a half a dozen maybe community foundations at Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.
SCARPINO: And you were under mandate by this federal law to create more.
MAWBY: Yeah, well not mandate, but opportunity to create more.
MAWBY: And so within the Council of Michigan Foundations, began to talk informally about how could we encourage the development of community foundations throughout the state. The concentration of people and resources are certainly in six or eight counties of southeastern Michigan, and when you get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you have the social cost of space, limited population, limited numbers of people, communities and resources, so that the situation, organization is quite different there. How could we, however, end up after some growth period in being able to say every person in Michigan has available to them the resources, the opportunity to be a part of a community foundation. And the benefit to me as an individual, I’m not a person of wealth, never will be, but of a community foundation, is that I can be engaged with it. I can make contributions to which general purpose fund which that board uses, or I can create a little donor advise fund. I can create, as we have, the Mawby Family Foundation. It’s a small entity but it’s something the Mawby family can use for resources from which it can make grants. Ours is with the Battle Creek Community Foundation. When we give to the Battle Creek Community Foundation general fund, it’s that resource is used just in the community. But from the Mawby family fund at the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Mawby family can make contributions anywhere in the world.
SCARPINO: So the Battle Creek Community Foundation is the legal structure within which you have…
MAWBY: In which I as an individual, or Ruth and I, and now Lou Ann and I, have the Mawby Family Fund, and we can designate resources from it. We can distribute just the income or we can distribute the corpus to any legal entity, eligible grantee, anywhere in the world. So we can give to mission work in Guatemala, education in South Africa, wonderful opportunity for every citizen. So we wanted that opportunity available to everybody.
So Dottie and a couple of the, a committee from the Council met with us at the Kellogg to talk about some sort of a challenge grant so that if community raised some funds we would match that dollar for dollar to help them generate a capacity so that they could have an ongoing structure. You need to begin to have then a part-time secretary and you need a part-time executive director and so forth as they develop capacity. So we talked about that, and I said gee, that’s great. I think we ought to be able to consider that, but I said I’ve got one perplexing problem that really continues to bother me, that in American society we have prolonged adolescence and deferred young adulthood far past the traditional ages of transition, so that many of our young kids aren’t really moving out of adolescence until they’re in their mid- to late twenties, and I just, and so we’re always doing things for teenagers, but they’ve got energy, they’re smart, they’ve got great emotional interests and commitments, we ought to give them opportunity to be really engaged. Would you just think about how can the Council of Michigan Foundation involve teenagers in the work of a community foundation so that it’s not just, they ought to be able to not just participate in a superficial way. It ought to be real. Something real.
SCARPINO: So where did you come up with an idea like this?
SCARPINO: How did you come up with an idea like this?
MAWBY: Simply that I’m always thinking about how do we make life more real. How do we give opportunity for people to be different than they are, and kids are.
SCARPINO: So Dorothy Johnson’s request…
SCARPINO: …approach to the Kellogg Foundation gave you an opportunity to implement this idea that had sort of been percolating.
MAWBY: You see I was director for eight years. I was the beneficiary of a 4-H Club program and Boy Scouts. Important to me as a kid, and then was director at the state level for eight years of the 4-H Club…
SCARPINO: But I mean you have a long history of serious involvement of youth and decision-making activities…
MAWBY: That’s right in every way.
SCARPINO: …and so Dorothy presents you with this opportunity and so what did you do?
MAWBY: So I said why don’t you think about how you can involve kids, and they went home and seriously came back with this approach of a challenge grant to counties, to communities, to establish a community foundation for, with a matching grant. In order to be eligible for the grant they had to establish a youth advisory council that would be engaged with the community foundation, establish a grant, a corpus, which could be matched. In other words, the community needed to establish a goal of $100,000. The kids would help raise it. Then it would be matched by the Kellogg Foundation and they’d have a hundred thousand of Kellogg money and a hundred thousand they had raised. The hundred thousand they had raised could be used in any way. The Kellogg money had to be dedicated to youth programming and the youth advisory council would have representation on the council board, but the youth council had responsibility then for inviting and reviewing applications from youth groups from throughout the county for their specific interests and projects and then actually making grants from their money, their hundred thousand dollars would, the payout percentage of that would be $5,000 a year, we now have in Ionia County that we as a youth council could make grants from. Some counties, some communities, you know, set a goal. We would match up to a million dollars. So some of them, you know, set up a goal of a million dollars. They raised it for their community foundation. Kellogg granted it and that million dollars match was dedicated to youth programming. So now we had…
SCARPINO: They had $50,000.
MAWBY: $50,000 a year for the youth advisory council. So it was exciting, and I remember Byron Cook so well. He was in Montcalm County up in Greenville. I had gotten to know him in an interesting way, anyway, and he said we would have never gone for that if you hadn’t had that youth advisory, and he said and having that youth engagement has changed the whole nature of our little community foundation. We’re now a dynamic organization.
SCARPINO: Brought in younger people?
MAWBY: Bought in interest of all sorts of people.
SCARPINO: So when you did this, did you have any sense that by creating these youth councils that you were actually creating the next generation of philanthropists and board members?
MAWBY: It was deliberate. Sure.
SCARPINO: So that was part of your goal.
MAWBY: Oh, you bet it was.
SCARPINO: It wasn’t just to keep the kids out of the mall.
MAWBY: You bet it was. So we set up then, a longitudinal study program with Michigan State University, to measure the impact of being a youth advisory council member over a period of time, and so we did that longitudinal impact so that we then, 10 years later, really did a substantial study. So some of these young people, now it was, they had been out of high school for 10 years. So I was on the youth advisory council during my junior and senior year, I graduated at 18 and I went and got my college degree and now I’m 28 years old. I’m married, I’m working, woman, man, whatever, and what am I doing? And measured differently you see, you had the control group, those who hadn’t been YACers, as they called themselves, and what I did as a YAC member.
SCARPINO: Youth Advisory Council.
MAWBY: Youth Advisory Council member, so, and just remarkable difference in the way in which during college. Very often their career plans were different because what they did as, in the Youth Advisory Council, they became interested in working with adolescent problems or with early childhood education or with health. They became aware of social problems, and so I went into the environmental field because of what I was studying in our community on environmental issues in YAC, and absolute engagement, what they were doing now with their time, with their talent, they were on boards, they were on committees, they were engaged wherever they were. So remarkable impact of that engagement, and so yeah, we know that the opportunities which you have during those developmental years, and of course developmental years can go on forever if you want them to. The impact is great, and it was certainly true with, solid evidence on the benefit, the impact of involvement in youth advisory councils.
SCARPINO: Just to get this in the record, if my notes are correct, Dorothy Johnson approached you in 1986 with this idea, and you had it up and running or they had it up and running in 1988.
MAWBY: Yeah, they had it. Yep.
SCARPINO: I understand that as a result of this challenge grant that they produced 23 new community foundations.
MAWBY: That’s right.
SCARPINO: And 86 permanently-endowed youth advisory councils?
SCARPINO: So you really, number one, expanded the number of local community foundations and created these.
MAWBY: Now we can say that every community in the Upper Peninsula, you know you, don’t have enough population and resource, but in Marquette you have a community and a community out in Gwen or out in Trout Creek can be a satellite. Have a Trout Creek fund in the Marquette Community Foundation.
SCARPINO: Which is in the Upper Peninsula.
MAWBY: The Upper Peninsula, yeah.
SCARPINO: So when you created these youth or when the youth advisory councils were created as a result of the initiative that came from you and the Kellogg Foundation, were there any other models for that kind of an organization in the country?
MAWBY: In the country?
SCARPINO: Yeah. Were there any other states that had something like that?
MAWBY: No, nobody else had done that.
SCARPINO: Have they since then?
SCARPINO: Have other states done this since then?
MAWBY: Oh yes, yeah.
SCARPINO: So you created the model.
MAWBY: We crated the model and other states would vary it somewhat. I think Indiana has replicated, Lilly has gone ahead with encouraging in every county, and I think it’s true to say in every county in Indiana you have access to a community foundation. I’m not sure about the youth advisory council. I think it’s a general pattern there and they’ve had teams of YAC members and staff from CMF go to states around the country. So, Ralph Collier now, the President of CMF, could give you a pretty good accounting very briefly of what’s happened nationally because of Michigan’s initiative.
SCARPINO: So here we have Russell Mawby, the head of the Kellogg Foundation, who has himself a personal history of working with youth and believing in an engaged youth.
MAWBY: Engaging youth. Giving them an opportunity to do, rather than to be done to.
SCARPINO: But the youth who will also grow up and be leaders and philanthropists in the future, and now as the head of the Kellogg Foundation, Dorothy Johnson practically hands you a vehicle for creating a system that existed nowhere else in the country.
MAWBY: That’s right.
SCARPINO: And you did it.
MAWBY: Mm hmm. Sure.
SCARPINO: Okay. I talked to Joel Orosz.
SCARPINO: Yeah, I always mispronounce that.
MAWBY: O r o s z. Orosz.
SCARPINO: I actually copied down one of the things he said when we were talking.
MAWBY: Oh my gosh.
SCARPINO: No, this is nice. This is nice.
MAWBY: He would say something.
SCARPINO: This is nice. He said, we were talking about the youth advisory committee, councils and so on, and he sort of summed it up, he said, kids, he said, were the real decision-makers and real power.
SCARPINO: And then he said to me, and that, he said, was vintage Russ.
SCARPINO: What made that vintage Russ?
MAWBY: Well, I don’t know. Vintage Russ. Just that, you see, in working with staff, I tried to structure the Kellogg Foundation to give staff opportunity and power, a vision for doing something and power to make it happen. One of the realities, you know, you always need to engage others, but very few exciting initiatives ever happen because of a committee. The initiative is with someone who creates a committee and then gets it done because you have to get others to join, but the committee itself usually doesn’t come up with something really exciting.
SCARPINO: So as head of the Kellogg Foundation, would it be fair for me to conclude that one of the things you were good at was picking the people who were the doers, the ones who would form the committees and so on and so forth.
MAWBY: Mm hmm.
SCARPINO: Another thing that you were good at was vision.
MAWBY: I hope so. I, you know, I’m always a little uncomfortable…
SCARPINO: And finding other people who have…
MAWBY: …yeah, but yeah, yeah. You know, one of the names that I didn’t give you, if you want another interesting conversation, you’d talk with a kid named Rick Little.
SCARPINO: We’re going to talk about him in a minute, actually.
MAWBY: Oh, his name come up somewhere, okay.
SCARPINO: I think so, yes.
MAWBY: If we’re going to talk about Rick Little we’ll delay it.
SCARPINO: In about two minutes. A third thing that I, strikes me that you were really good at, was empowering other people.
MAWBY: I hope so, because I realize…
SCARPINO: Did you deliberately set out to do that?
MAWBY: Excuse me?
SCARPINO: Was that a goal, you deliberately set out to empower other people?
MAWBY: Sure. Oh, yeah, always, and I think the goal of the Kellogg Foundation in helping people help themselves, is to help them develop both the confidence and the capacity to do more than they’re now doing. The confidence that yeah, you can do this. You have to have the capacity and that’s through training then and through knowledge. If you give people access to knowledge to help them deal with their problems, however that knowledge is transmitted, that empowers them to do more than they’re now doing, either in their own life or in their community.
SCARPINO: So when we look at the philanthropy landscape in Michigan during the time that you were the head of the Kellogg Foundation, you’ve got the Michigan, or you’ve got the Council of Michigan Foundations, which you played a role in creating. I mean you helped, obviously.
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right and one of the most brilliant things was YAC as a part of that, and spreading it statewide.
SCARPINO: Right, and I was going to say so you’ve got the community foundations, you’ve got YAC, both of which you played a role in creating.
SCARPINO: In addition to those elements, there was something called the Michigan Campus Compact. How does that fit into the picture?
MAWBY: Well, Michigan Campus, the Campus Compact was an idea from elsewhere, and I forget. That’s out east, I was going to say Connecticut, but I’m not sure, but the idea of engaging students in college to be concerned with the community of which their college is a part.
SCARPINO: Now was that an idea that you brought back?
MAWBY: It was an idea that was there, and one of our staff members became aware of, and saying that’s a wonderful idea of getting students, well let’s just say whatever the college is. It’s Albion College, it’s Calvin College, it’s Earlham College, engaged with life beyond. So that the students, well it’s the old, I guess, the town and gown concept of getting faculty, but getting students engaged in a variety of ways in the community. So Campus Compact is that idea, and we helped then, we, the Foundation, helped interested college leaders and the chair of Campus Compact. I think in Michigan it’s always a college president and it may be the president of the University of Michigan or it may be the president of Adrian College or Hope College or whatever. But the organization then encourages campus engagement with the community. So that was, but we helped…
SCARPINO: And that was its mission, campus engagement.
MAWBY: …yeah, that idea was started elsewhere. Just like Learn and Serve was started elsewhere. We helped mobilize it as a national initiative.
SCARPINO: But again, this is a program aimed at young people, creating leaders and tomorrow’s citizens and that kind of thing.
MAWBY: That’s right. And to be engaged beyond self.
SCARPINO: What was the Michigan Community Service Commission, and how does that fit in?
MAWBY: Okay. The Michigan Community Service Commission came about and there’s one that we’ve got to get in, are we going to get into the Michigan Nonprofit Association—MNA—somewhere?
SCARPINO: We can do that next, if you can tell me how that fits in, that would be…
MAWBY: Okay. Chronologically it would come next, but it and MCSC came about the same time. Okay, the Michigan Nonprofit Association. Well as you look at the nonprofit world, the grant makers are only a part of it. I call us, the Council of Michigan, we’re the grant makers, and the others are the grant seekers but they’re also the doers.
MAWBY: Grant makers don’t do anything. We just make it possible for those who are doing something to do it differently and better. Okay, so that’s all we can do. Money, without people, money doesn’t do any good at all.
SCARPINO: That’s true. In a pile it does very little.
MAWBY: Huh? That’s right.
SCARPINO: In a pile it does very little.
MAWBY: Well, and sometimes if the pile is too big it does harm.
SCARPINO: That’s also true.
MAWBY: Also if as a grant maker, you give too big a pile of money you do more harm than good. So you have to be…
SCARPINO: So it that part of the art, to figure out the right amount?
MAWBY: Oh, you bet it is. Yeah, you do a real disservice if you give too much.
SCARPINO: How good do you think you were at doing that?
MAWBY: I hope we did pretty well. The biggest danger—two risks—one is that you will, the biggest risk is giving to an organization, a facility beyond its capacity to sustain. Get a big building, and if you can’t keep it full, it’s a burden on your institution.
SCARPINO: They get a bump with the grant money and when it goes away they can’t sustain it.
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. So, or to create an entity, an institution, a department let’s say within a college, that there just isn’t enough over time. Now you’ve got to do some experimenting. You don’t learn just when you succeed, you learn sometimes when you fail as an institution, as an organization, but you don’t really help any organization if you unwisely give them too much. But I was concerned always then, of course what’s going on because of philanthropy, of the work of the Council of Michigan Foundation and that’s the world of the nonprofit organizations, and if you look at policy issues the grant makers have very little clout. We can’t give to your political action fund. We can’t lobby for any legislative issue. That our lobbying can only be in relation to issues affecting the operation of the Kellogg Foundation. We can’t work on health issues or education issues and so forth. So that’s the work of the nonprofit organizations, institutions.
So we looked at this in Michigan and again we had a wealth of organizations, activities doing all sorts of things but there was a lot of duplication. There were a lot of common interests and concerns that weren’t being dealt with collectively, and so I began to think about how do we re-think? Well at the national level there was an organization beginning to develop called the Independent Sector, and John Gardner was one of the prime movers and Brian O’Connell, in that initiative. We began to say gosh, we ought to be thinking about that in Michigan. So, you know, I just began to talk with people, and yeah, it was some interest, some skepticism. You’re working in the arts and I’m working in environmental issues and we’re in competition. You’re trying to get this guy’s dollars and so am I. So we’re in competition. What can we work together on? What are the common interests where we might collaborate?
So we began to talk about that and finally, growing out of that I moved forward to another meeting, and identified 10 statewide organizations that had some reputation, some credibility, you know, were doing well, and invited each of those 10 to come to a meeting with two representatives. One, the chair of the governing board, and second, the chief executive officer, and so we had United Way, we had independent colleges, we had state school boards, the K-12 school systems, we had the state colleges and universities, we had health, we had art, we had recreation, we had environment. We had 10 organizations. Now you can have gone on with 20 or 50 but we wanted sort of broad representation and we just met to talk about are there some common interests, what are some of the common problems? Well, the problem, how do you develop a governing board? What do you need in your governing board? What kind of people? What kind of skills? How do you train them? How do you get them to think as a difference of the board and all of that? How do you identify professional staff? What kind of training do they need? How do you develop training programs to engage volunteers? Then we’ve got all the legal issues. We’ve got policy issues. We’ve got accounting issues. We’ve got management and so forth.
So we began to talk about all of these areas of concern, and we agreed at the end of that luncheon, yeah, we ought to think about whether or not there would be common interests. So again we appointed probably three groups. I’m trying to remember them. But one was to think about a statewide meeting of representatives of all nonprofit organizations that wished to come. Second was planning about what are some of the areas in which we could work together collaboratively—policy issues, training issues. A lot of small nonprofits have real trouble with benefit programs. You’ve got three employees, two part-time employees. Can we give any health benefits, et cetera, et cetera, insurance coverage and so forth? So you’ve got those issues. So looking at the common areas, and third then, is there any kind of an organization structure we could begin to consider.
So we started out as a Michigan nonprofit forum coming together to talk and to meet. One of the objectives then being out of this engagement initially, the first meeting we had substance in it but we also had that agenda of where do we want to go from here, and that led us then, I think the organization moved ahead then with the Michigan Nonprofit Forum name for maybe three years, and then matured into an association.
SCARPINO: And it became?
MAWBY: MNA, Michigan Nonprofit Association. And it includes both grant seekers and grant makers. Many states have an association of the grant seekers, the doers, but not including the grant makers, and ours includes community foundation representatives, family foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and so forth. All engaged as they wished to be. But it’s broad. It’s become very important, very powerful in its training programs, in its recruitment of working on volunteers, working on trusteeships and so forth.
SCARPINO: And the Michigan Community Service Commission?
MAWBY: Okay, so that’s the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and Kyle Caldwell is the president of it, and you talked to Kyle.
SCARPINO: Mm hmm.
MAWBY: Okay. Then, in the early 1990s, President Clinton began talking about a domestic peace corps, and he wanted to come up with what became to be the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps is the most visible component. And so when he began promoting that, Governor John Engler, (word inaudible) Democrat, Republican John Engler, who was always looking, who was always an opportunist, said well, if that’s going to happen, there’s going to have to be a state entity that’s going to be the grant maker because somebody had to be in charge of what came into the state, and so he talked with MNA and CMF and me and a few others about how could we, what kind of an organization could we put together. That led to the Michigan Community Service Commission. Dottie Johnson was involved with CMF. Kyle Caldwell was involved. I was involved, but I did not become a member of the board initially. Dottie was probably on the first board. I became a member of the MCSC after I retired from Kellogg.
SCARPINO: And that was a member of the board.
SCARPINO: You were a member of the board.
MAWBY: I am now.
MAWBY: Became a member in 1998. Engler, well Mrs. Engler, the first lady, was the chair of the Michigan, and did a beautiful job. But the Englers then, term limited, said we want to move this forward. We think it’s great, AmeriCorps, VISTA, Learn and Serve, but we don’t know who the next governor’s going to be, so we need a less political chair of MCSC, and I’ve never been active politically and so they asked me to become a member of MCSC; the membership and the chair are named by the governor. So the governor named me to MCSC. A couple of months later Michelle resigned and the governor named me chair.
SCARPINO: Michelle is Mrs. Engler.
MAWBY: Michelle Engler resigned, and I became chair leading up to the election in which the Democrat, Jennifer Granholm, was elected in 2002, yeah. I must have come on the board in ’99 or 2000 or something. I forget just when. If that detail is important I can get it. But I came on with the idea, with the responsibility of helping facilitate contact with the new administration so when we knew who the Republican and Democratic candidates were, we began to educate both of them about MCSC and AmeriCorps and community service, and then after the election we began to work with the transition team, encouraging the first gentleman, Dan Mulhern, to become chair of the MCSC. Dan is a lawyer and had become a real expert in leadership training and consulting. Interestingly, was a member of Kellogg National Fellowship Program. He’s a Kellogg Fellow.
SCARPINO: One of your products.
MAWBY: KNFP. So he was not unfamiliar to us, and so he became chairman of MCSC. So as soon as we got him then I resigned as chair but have continued as a member. And we now have a new governor coming in and so I’ve been working, not in the same role I was before, but just helping in the transition, hoping that the new first lady will become MCSC.
SCARPINO: Who is the new governor of Michigan?
MAWBY: The new governor is named Snyder. Never been into elective office before. Businessman, and is governor. So he’s doing a good job with his appointments and we hope that, so the MCSC, its role is it’s simply here as another resource and the best way to describe it is that most of what, well the goal of the corporation for national and community service is really volunteerism. Now AmeriCorps members do get a small stipend but the biggest thing they get is an educational benefit. So it’s like the old GI Bill. So if I’ve been in AmeriCorps two years I get help for a couple of years of college. And these are bright young people again. Many of them partway through college, not really figured out yet, they’re searching for what they want to do, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to make a contribution, but AmeriCorps members then, you see, nonprofits and public schools and universities and so forth can request AmeriCorps teams for various purposes and various periods of time. So we right now have 1200 AmeriCorps kids in Michigan.
SCARPINO: And it’s another youth promotion.
MAWBY: Well, yeah. AmeriCorps can be any age. The average age is probably 20.
SCARPINO: Okay. Yeah, I thought they were mostly college-age people.
MAWBY: Yeah, mostly college age, post-high school.
SCARPINO: I want to run something by you that you wrote in the W. K. Kellogg Foundation annual report in 1988.
MAWBY: I did? You’re the only one that ever, you’re the second person that read it. My gracious!
SCARPINO: [laughing] I somehow doubt that, but I’m going to paraphrase this. This is 1988 and this is you talking, writing in a piece called “Changing the Focus on Youth,” and you talked about several studies that showed serious problems with youth. You pointed out that the picture wasn’t all bad. You cited positive things related to the National 4-H Council, and you actually said in there that 60% of female teenagers do not get pregnant and 70% of teenagers do not get drunk, and you noted problems, you mentioned the traditional family being nearly extinct and you went on and then you pointed out that the Kellogg Foundation was addressing these youth issues through the Kellogg Youth Initiatives Program—KYIP— and the Kellogg Foundation launched this program in three Michigan communities—Calhoun County, rural area, Detroit City Center, and two counties in the Upper Peninsula.
MAWBY: Mm hmm.
SCARPINO: Which I gather was a partnership between the Foundation and the local communities.
SCARPINO: So, I’m going to ask you to tell me how KYIP worked, but I am interested in some of the people that apparently you pulled in with this program.
SCARPINO: So can you sort of briefly explain what the…
MAWBY: What the idea was?
SCARPINO: Yeah, the Kellogg Youth Initiatives Program, and then I’ve got some specific things I want to ask you about too.
MAWBY: Okay. Well first of all, it was a serious effort to look, try to look at the community level in a more comprehensive way and to encourage a community to think differently about youth and the realities of today and their tomorrow. A mixed success. Learned things, and as I said earlier, you know, you learn from failures as well as successes.
So KYIP was not a brilliant success at all, really because of people. How do you get the right people to provide leadership and then how do you get the community engaged in a different way, because we tried to identify three communities. We talked with a lot of people in a lot of places and so forth out of which we, you know, how do you go about implementing that kind of, I don’t know. If I were to do it again I’d probably, obviously would try to do it differently, because it didn’t work very well. We selected what I call the Appalachia of Michigan, the Upper Peninsula. We picked Marquette and Alger Counties.
SCARPINO: With sort of a dying copper mining economy and…
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. The old extractive industry—logging and mining in Marquette and Alger. Marquette, the biggest city in the UP, the financial headquarters, the basic strength of Northern Michigan University and three state prisons, and that gives economic stability to a lot of people, and then little Alger County. If you lived in Grand Mere up on the shore of Lake Superior you were a K-12 school system of 76 kids busing 60 miles one way to the Grand Mere, and if you lived in Grand Mere and you wanted to see a traffic light or a movie, you had to drive a hundred miles to Marquette.
SCARPINO: That’s right, you had to go to Marquette.
MAWBY: Okay. So that’s Upper Peninsula. Then we picked Calhoun County, which is where Battle Creek is located, for obvious reasons.
SCARPINO: Where what is located?
MAWBY: Where Battle Creek is, in Calhoun County, so that’s our home county. We’re the biggest city but we’re not the county seat.
MAWBY: And then you’re trying, well you had to have a community in Detroit, and we finally, after talking with lots and lots of people in Detroit, selected one high school and its feeder schools. But the reality is there’s not a sense of community anymore with schools as there once was, and certainly in as complex a city as Detroit. But the concept of community just didn’t work, because the impact of, well what we tried to do. Let’s take Calhoun County. We tried to get the schools and then all of the other related agencies of public health and health services, the judicial system and probate and foster care and all of the other implications, welfare programs, the probate judges, on, on, and on, to get people in all walks of life to begin to think differently, and how do you get these different entities to be more understanding and more collaborative and so forth.
And one of the things that we implemented was an initiative, a training program for people to become men and women, professionals and the volunteers and on the committees and so forth to come together for training, to talk about issues, and to explore the application and knowledge what’s been learned elsewhere, et cetera. We talked to the communities about continuing for a generation 20 years. This ended, this started about 1990 and I retired in ’95. The Foundation phased it out, bought out the three locations in the year 2000. The one, I think in which the, there had been the greatest success is probably the Upper Peninsula where in a lot of respects it’s simpler, less complicated.
SCARPINO: Do you think that was part of the problem, is that two of those locations were just so socially complex?
MAWBY: Socially complex. The various agencies are so sophisticated and affluent that they don’t have to work together. In the UP we’ve got to help each other if we’re both going to survive. And so I think relatively unsuccessful. In Detroit, change in the high school principal and the principal in each of those elementary schools was no continuity. No consistency with the Detroit public school system. It’s regarded, described as one of the poorest in the country and so forth. So, just a failed kind of, to say that we were going to make this one of the best communities in which to be a kid, to be born and grow up didn’t materialize. Too ambitious a project, I think, for any private entity to take on.
SCARPINO: Several of the folks that I talked to when I gathered background information on before I talked to you in Boston, said that under your leadership the Kellogg foundation made more grants to teenagers than any other foundation, and they gave me some really interesting examples.
SCARPINO: And one of them, I’m not sure about the pronunciation here but one of them was a young man named Bill Hoogterp, H o o g t e r p, he was an Aquinas College student, told me that he came to the Kellogg Foundation clearly not dressed for an appointment. He had typos in his application. He didn’t have an appointment. You saw him anyhow.
SCARPINO: So I have two questions. Why did you see him and what came out of that meeting?
MAWBY: Why would a kid from Aquinas College drive to Battle Creek and want to talk to me if he didn’t think it was important, you know? So I thought he must, Bill must think this is important. He was dedicated. He was a very active church member, Christian, Aquinas College, and he, what did he call one of his initiatives, Into the Streets.
SCARPINO: Yeah, and Hunger Cleanup and later became Into the Streets.
MAWBY: Into the Streets, okay, and so we’re going to get all of our students to take this Saturday and we’re going to go into the streets and do a whole variety of things, environmental cleanup and so on and so forth. And he had been successful in doing this at Aquinas. He wanted to go elsewhere. He had a pickup truck. He had a sleeping bag. He could always get a place to put a sleeping bag in a fraternity house on any campus so he didn’t need much money. He just needed a little bit of help to spread his idea to other places. And Hoogterp’s been an interesting entrepreneur, social entrepreneur.
SCARPINO: He did it, didn’t he?
MAWBY: He did it. He did it. And then a couple of other models and then he got involved with a, I forget the name of this one.
SCARPINO: There’s a group called Breakaway?
MAWBY: Yeah, and then he did one with, not a coupon idea, some kind of an idea with grocery stores, and he made money out of that one and now he’s put that into social ventures.
SCARPINO: Another person who, to whom you gave a grant, was a gentleman named Rick Little. Nineteen years old, he was a college dropout and he came to you with an idea to develop a curriculum for high school kids to help keep them in college, and you took a chance on him and according to my sources, he got a grant for $800,000. A college dropout to do a curriculum for kids to stay in college.
SCARPINO: So why did you take a chance on this guy?
MAWBY: Why would I have bothered to see Rick Little?
MAWBY: Well, that one came about in a little different way. A kid, a young man, Bob Andringa, whom I had learned through some other contacts.
SCARPINO: Andringa, you said his name was?
MAWBY: Andringa, Bob Andringa, A n d r i n g a, who’s a west Michigan native and was on the education staff of the congressman from Minnesota, and his name will come if it’s useful. Anyway, he was on the staff of a congressman from Minnesota. I had gotten acquainted with him through education contacts and he called me one day and just said Rick Little has been in to talk with me. I can’t do anything, would you talk with him? I said sure. So Rick came to town. He was a college stop out. He came from a dysfunctional family, alcoholic parents, but was in a sense the all-American boy. He was handsome, he was a high school good student, quarterback, you know, just popular. Had gone to college, was in an automobile accident, and got to thinking about how did he help kids who had to deal with the problems he dealt with, and so he developed the concept of a program he called Quest, which started at the high school level. Q u e s t, Quest.
SCARPINO: Quest International maybe?
MAWBY: Well, it became international.
SCARPINO: It became international, okay. Started out as Quest, and then became international.
MAWBY: It was Quest in three school districts in Ohio, and he had gotten teachers to work with him and developed a curriculum. Had written a book, got a guy named Bill Cosby who was completing his doctorate at which, Boston University? Cosby has a Ph.D., doesn’t he?
SCARPINO: Yeah. I thought it was Temple, but I could be wrong. He’s got a Ph. D. It is Dr. Cosby, yes.
MAWBY: He got Bill Cosby, I think, to write the introduction—I’ve got the book somewhere here—to write the introduction to this book but Rick Little had worked on evaluation. He had worked on all of the components. He developed a curriculum on training of teachers to work with teenagers in a different way in dealing with their problems and wanted some assistance, and had put together a budget, and this is one of the cases in which I said, I have a staff member. Had a wonderful retired person from Olivet College. We had done some initiatives with private colleges and George Hanson had worked with us and so I had George working part-time on some, so I got George and I talked with Rick and I said George, this seems like an interesting idea. He was enthused also. I said, but has he put enough, I don’t think he’s requested enough money, has he, to do what needs to be done to get this started over five years so it becomes sustainable. Because he had the business plan and everything worked out. And so that’s where we made an appropriation bigger than the application.
SCARPINO: So this young man who was a college dropout, not only did you give him money, you gave him more than he asked for.
SCARPINO: And then he created Quest, which became Quest International.
MAWBY: And became Quest International.
SCARPINO: I looked him up, and I’m going to read to you a line that I found in my search on Rick Little.
SCARPINO: In 1989, Little led a process involving hundreds of leaders from dozens of countries that resulted in the establishment of IYF, which is International Youth Foundation, in 1990 with the largest charitable investment ever made by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, more than $68,000,000.
MAWBY: This is different now.
SCARPINO: Yeah, this is different, right.
MAWBY: Okay, so Rick started Quest and you’ll be interested to see, he’s young enough to be my son, younger than that, I guess, anyway grandson, anyway. So every time I would see him I’d say oh, Rick, remind me, what day is graduation? I want to be there. Every time. On the telephone, my closing, Rick, when’s graduation? And he said if you hadn’t done that I never would have, but he completed college. He started Quest, went national with it, went international with it.
I kept reminding him you’ve got to make it sustainable. You can’t get startup money, once it’s started, you’ve got to, and did a fantastic job. But he was an entrepreneur. Still is a social entrepreneur. Not a manager, not a detailist. He does get bored with that. So he got that started and kind of spun off and then we subsidized him to think about a different idea of taking that which is already working in youth development and disseminate it worldwide. I’m going to have to take a five-minute break. Do you need a break?
SCARPINO: I don’t, but I need to figure out how to put this thing on pause. Let’s see if I can do this. (pause)
All right, we’re on again and you were talking about Rick Little and your moving him toward the creation of IYF.
MAWBY: Yes. So he was interested in that, as we look at adolescent development and the problem of high school dropout and youth interest and providing opportunities and jobs and so forth, he said we’ve got ideas all over the world working on that and isn’t it a shame that we don’t have any way of learning from elsewhere what’s going on that might work in our community. So he developed the International Youth Foundation idea of encouraging countries to, in each country, establish a youth foundation, an international network of sharing then, lessons learned in Israel and Nigeria and India or wherever, and, but encouraging in a sense at a national level, a community foundation, if you please, and put together the budget for such a structure. He talked with people about becoming members of this governing board. He’s had national leaders, prime ministers from, leaders from all of the continents involved. But he developed this plan, and if you’d asked me I’d have said the commitment was in the 60 millions and I think that’s what you said.
SCARPINO: I found 68 million.
MAWBY: All right. And it was the largest we had ever done as a foundation. Now this doesn’t mean a bang gift of 68 million. It was a challenge grant enabling them to begin to, again, very much as in the Michigan Community Foundation initiative, to provide some assistance to a country and to begin to develop the structure, raise funds which would be matched to create a capacity in each country. IYF now has its international headquarters in Baltimore. I think has 70 countries, nations involved and several multiples of the 68 million in terms of total resources committed. So it’s again another example of social entrepreneurship.
Bill Hoogterp did things differently, but with social objectives in mind. Rick Little, a different style, a different pattern, but if you read the names of the governing board of IYF, Rick is still a member of the board, but he’s no longer the executive director. He’s no longer the president of IYF. That’s not his role. He’s moved on to a new concept of, his organization is called ImagineNations with the N with capitalized, ImagineNations, in which he works with nations on imagining what their country could become, and has been involved for the last two, maybe three years in 23 Arabian countries in the Middle East and Africa working on youth issues.
SCARPINO: So what you were doing with the money that you gave to Rick Little was really capacity building.
MAWBY: Capacity building and encouraging local initiatives—local in the sense of nation initiatives—dealing with youth issues.
SCARPINO: And what is it that IYF does? I mean what do they do with the money they use?
MAWBY: Well, they use it in, the countries then use it in developing programs for youth, training programs, job creation programs, educational programs, youth development programs to try to move youth into productive young adult roles.
SCARPINO: One more person whose name I ran across. Again, somebody that you gave a grant to, a young person. Wendy Koop, K o o p, Founder of Teach for America.
MAWBY: Oh, yeah.
SCARPINO: You gave her the second grant, not the first one.
MAWBY: That’s right.
SCARPINO: But how did you encounter Wendy Koop and what persuaded you to take a chance on her?
MAWBY: Well, I encountered Wendy Koop really through a member of our staff, Jack Mawdsley, who had been the superintendent of schools in Battle Creek.
SCARPINO: Mawdsley was his name?
MAWBY: Mawdsley, M a w d s l e y. Jack Mawdsley, Dr. Jack Mawdsley. Superintendent of the schools in Battle Creek. Did a superb job. Came into our programming staff to help us and he became acquainted with Wendy Koop who had this idea of initiating young people into a teaching role after they graduate from college, but without a teaching degree, and to encourage them to teach for a year or two years or even three years before moving on in their education and career. And this was a crazy idea in a sense. Her first goal was encouraging enough that we provided substantial support and to help make it grow and now so far as I know it’s very much self-sustaining and is a major national initiative.
I have a nephew who graduated from Suttons Bay High School up north of Traverse City, a very rural school, went to Grand Valley State University, got a bachelor’s degree, became very much engaged in community activities and so forth, and became intrigued with Teach for America, has just completed three years. He went for a first year and then a second and then a third year at an inner-city high school in Baltimore. Completely, so completely different environment from Suttons Bay Michigan to downtown Baltimore, and now Alan has just completed his third year there and is in law school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, wanting not to be a practicing lawyer in the legal sense but to use his legal training to work with the kinds of kids he spent three years with in center city Baltimore. So he was in Teach for America for a third year simply because he became so committed to those kids with whom he was working.
SCARPINO: And I understand that this Teach for America idea actually grew out of her undergraduate thesis at Princeton.
MAWBY: Yeah, that’s right. And so, yeah, that’s another just tremendous, I always use the word privilege, of being to help people. My mindset was always anyone who called, if I didn’t answer the phone I’d return your call.
SCARPINO: That’s what I heard. [laughing]
MAWBY: Yeah, and so that Bill, you know, came down in his pickup truck and we had a good visit, and he made a difference. Rick Little came in. He had been to 150-some, he said, different sources had been completely unsuccessful, and so…
SCARPINO: I mean my sense and the reason that I spun this out so far is that there were not very many heads of large nonprofit foundations who were entertaining the type of youthful applicants in person in their office that you were.
MAWBY: I’m sure not.
SCARPINO: You seemed to have a faith in youth.
MAWBY: It’s a matter of mindset.
MAWBY: They could have been, but they weren’t and they aren’t, in general, still.
SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you just a couple more questions and we’ll wrap this up but because we spent a fair amount of time talking about the situation in Michigan, I just want to remind or point out for anybody who listens to this recording or reads the transcript that when we visited in Boston, we also talked about the Center for the Study of Philanthropy at Indiana University…
SCARPINO: …that you and the Kellogg Foundation helped to create, and then we talked about the fact that there is a similar center at Grand Valley State College, and that also obviously is a part of the Michigan landscape.
SCARPINO: And if somebody’s interested in that they can go back and have a look at one of the earlier interviews, and in fact that center’s named after Dorothy Johnson.
MAWBY: Dorothy Johnson, who is just completing, I think, 16 years as a trustee of that university. Really, well let’s see, her brother-in-law was a founding member of the board, another member of the Johnson family. Paul Johnson was a great leader.
SCARPINO: That’s the board of Grand Valley, or of…?
MAWBY: Of Grand Valley University, and so her brother-in-law was a founding member of the board. She has been 16 years and it’s her leadership as a trustee of the university as well as in the field of philanthropy. And I just want to emphasize that one of my interests has been getting philanthropy broadly engaged or as a part of the academic world of study, research and teaching and outreach.
Because I think it ought to be a part of the education, the learning of every educated person, an appreciation for private initiatives, the opportunities and responsibility I have to share my time, my talent, and my treasure with others as a volunteer, and so one of the things I was concerned and as we moved ahead and the wonderful development thanks to the leadership of the Indiana University at Indianapolis, coupled with the Lilly Endowment, that had the vision to really make that happen, Kellogg was privileged to be involved from the very early days and then helped to stimulate developments elsewhere. But I was anxious to have such an academic center in Michigan, and of course when I was the CEO I made a point of knowing as many college, university presidents of the public and private institutions as I could, and so out of that…
SCARPINO: I imagine they also made a point of getting to know you. [laughing]
MAWBY: Well, they weren’t reluctant if I called. Anyway, invited every institution, public and private, to come to a talk about the idea of a center for philanthropy in the state of Michigan, and so we met and we talked. Had a presentation about what was going on in Indiana as one pattern but there obviously could be other models than that one. And so if anybody’s interested in this idea, be glad to talk. The only response—Grand Valley State University.
SCARPINO: Relatively new institution.
MAWBY: Relatively new institution.
MAWBY: But with an entrepreneurial president, Don Lubbers, and Don Lubbers just did a tremendous job for the university as its founding, no, second president. The first president was there very briefly. Don was there for what, more than a quarter of a century. Did a tremendous job, and none of the others, we had had some engagements in a more limited way in philanthropy and research at Michigan State, at Michigan, some of their involvements and so forth, but the one response and the key, I think, is how successful they are in getting it engaged throughout the institution as it is in Indianapolis, and not have it as a little intellectual center off in some corner of the campus.
SCARPINO: In fact, as I’m sure you know, we have several faculty members in different disciplines who have joint appointments. We have two with joint appointments in History in the Center on Philanthropy.
MAWBY: See, I think that’s the key to success, and it needs to be a part of all of the fields of study, and I’m delighted to hear that because if you look at the history of this country you can’t deny the importance of philanthropy, from really Plymouth Rock on. [laughing]
SCARPINO: There was a famous French writer named Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote that one of the great things about the United States was voluntary…
MAWBY: Isn’t that de Tocqueville? You think of when he was here, how different a country, how much, yeah, just the problem of communication, of transportation and so forth, and yet what insight he gained from his contacts. Yeah. Remarkable.
SCARPINO: I’m just going to ask you a couple more questions, and one of the things that you and I have talked about a lot and that you have talked about a great deal, was the business of character, and figuring out in part who has the character to be a leader and who has the character to pick up the ball and who’s the doer and that kind of thing, and I know because you told me and because I did some background reading on you that you had a serious illness that put you in a wheelchair for several years.
SCARPINO: And since, for a variety of reasons, you’re not in that wheelchair anymore.
MAWBY: Yeah. Well I guess doctors tell me that this was a nerve cell problem and there’s no treatment, but nerve cells do regenerate and so I just encouraged them to do so.
SCARPINO: So what did you learn from that terrible experience that’s had an impact on your character?
MAWBY: I think, well I’ve always tried to be respectful and sensitive to people in whatever circumstances they find themselves but I’ve learned that, you know, life in a wheelchair is different, and just because it’s a handicap-accessible sign, don’t believe it, because it probably really isn’t, because even things built to code really don’t serve all handicaps. So you learn lots of simple realities, but it just strengthened, I’ve always tried to be sensitive, understanding, to be respectful of whomever I met in whatever circumstances. If it’s in a village in the hills of Columbia or Guatemala or in a, I guess the first couple of homes recently that I ever visited where people were living with dirt floor and sod roof were probably in Western Ireland and Ireland in the 1960s. People are wonderful. People are great.
SCARPINO: Do you think that’s one of your qualities as a leader, is that you can persuade people that you have respect for them?
MAWBY: I hope so, because I do have respect. So I struggle, you know, always. I regard myself as a man of faith that challenges how do you live that faith, and I probably have mentioned the Institute for Global Ethics up in the state of Maine, Rushworth Kidder. I don’t know if you’re familiar with any of his writings. I encourage you…
SCARPINO: We talked about that a little last time and then when we turned the recorder off we talked about it some more.
MAWBY: Yeah. But, and Rushworth Kidder was with the Christian Science Monitor, and did a global study in the early 1990s to try to find what are the common values that people share worldwide, which might bring us together when we find so many reasons to be separate or divided, and he came down with five values and I try to remember those. One is honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and fairness, and he says those are common values that can bring people together, so that if we deal together with each other honestly, now if either of us indulges in dishonesty or falsehood then that fails, but if we’re honest with each other we’ll get along. So I just try to remind myself of that always in whatever role and situation I find myself and I’ve never, you know, indulged, I’m really bothered with concepts of profiling. I don’t like patterns of segregation or general descriptions because I don’t think populations are best described that way.
SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you two more questions.
SCARPINO: Many things in which you’ve had a personal interest or where you saw a need became Kellogg Foundation-sponsored programs and you have told me and when we chatted when the recorder was off that all three of your children are adopted. You adopted your daughter Karen when she was a baby and your two sons, Douglas and David were brothers when you and your wife, when they were four I think and five and a half.
SCARPINO: They had been in Michigan’s foster care system and I understand that out of your personal experience came the Kellogg Foundation’s Families for Kids Program. Is that a correct conclusion?
MAWBY: Yeah, well, see I get credit for, people say that, but that was a concern with changing the pattern of adoption, but really it was Valora Washington you see, Lorraine Matusak, it’s Jack Mawdsley, it’s Valora Washington. I’m a part of it.
SCARPINO: And Valora Washington was who?
MAWBY: Valora Washington was a young African-American professional on our staff who shared a real compassion and concern for problems of family, the importance of adoption and of short, carefully patterned foster care. She believed that parental obligation should be terminated abruptly when it’s obvious that the parental responsibilities are being neglected, that the infant, hopefully, this would happen early, that the young infant would be in foster care, supervised foster care for one year and permanent placement within a year. So to minimize that period of foster care. See, I’d have to say that the two little guys that we had had been, they were four and five plus years old, had been in foster care for three and a half to four years, with six or eight different foster families. I don’t know that they were physically abused but they were certainly psychologically and educationally deprived, and, you know, just had no family life experiences up to that point.
SCARPINO: How did you come to adopt those two particular boys? I mean how did your path, how did you come to adopt those two particular boys? How did your paths cross?
MAWBY: Oh, okay. We’ve got enough time, of course. Ruth and I learned, when I was in the Army for two years, and we learned while we were living in Arkansas that we would not have biological children. So when we came home I went back to the faculty at Michigan State and she was on the faculty in extension, and we got in touch with the Department of Human Services or whatever it was in Michigan wherever you go for adoption, foster care, and we had a bright, young, we had an old farmhouse out of the suburbs of the village of Williamston and this young lady came out from the county office and inspected our house from attic to basement, interviewed both of us and then ended up saying, well, I’m sorry to tell you, you’ll never be able to adopt children. And we thought gee whiz, you know. She said and I said could you explain to us why that would be. She said you’ve got too much education. Ruth had a bachelor’s degree in home economics family living from Western Michigan University. I had a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a master’s in agricultural economics, Michigan State and Purdue, and was working on a doctorate in ag econ. You’ve got too much, and these babies, these kids, aren’t from educated families. And I said you can’t mean that. She said that’s right, you won’t be able to adopt children. So when, that’s the answer, that was the answer.
So we got in touch with an old friend who was a doctor up in Traverse City, and we talked to Earl and said here’s our situation do you have any. He said no, no prospects at the moment. Now this was all legal. But he said I’m sure I will. So I got home one day in July of 1986 and Ruth was excited. She said Earl called and he was, had worked on the Springhill farm when Ruth was a little kid and he did some babysitting for Mary and Ruth and so he called. He always called her Toughie and he called, Toughie, you’re seven months pregnant. Your baby’s going to be born in September.
So that was our first, our daughter, and so Ruth and I picked up our two mothers—the two grandmothers-to-be—in Grand Rapids and went to Traverse City and brought Karen home when she was a week old. So that’s how we got daughter, child number one. No help at all from the social services. Two years later we got a call from the social service office in Mason, Ingham County, saying they had two little boys. They had taken seven youngsters from one family. These were the two youngest and they would like to keep them together and they would consider us if we would take the two. So we thought about that and we said yes we would.
So they brought the boys for a weekend. That’s their usual procedure. Picked them up and brought them for the weekend, and then picked them up again on Monday, and then called and said yes, they decided they would place them on condition with us, and so then she asked, or we asked about when they would come and she told me and she said, oh and it would be easier if I just met you in the parking lot at Michigan State instead of had to drive out to your house. So we picked up Doug and Dave in the parking lot. They had one brown bag, each with two pairs of, no, one pair of underwear for each and two broken toys and that was all the earthy goods Doug and Dave had after five years with the state of Michigan as their parent.
Doug at age five, after four years of foster parenting, couldn’t spell his name, couldn’t count to 10, had done nothing. A disgraceful situation. So when Valora started to talking I was very responsive, and she set up a pilot program, Families for Kids, with seven different models and the evaluation came in after I retired and I don’t know just what was learned. I’m disappointed the Foundation did not follow up on any of that.
SCARPINO: They did not follow up?
MAWBY: As far as I know they did not. Because I think it’s a devilish problem yet, and you read in the paper about some instance where there was a little guy over in Ann Arbor, just in the paper, was seven years old, had been adopted five years before and by this family in Ann Arbor, and now the biological father who had never assumed any responsibility before, came back and claimed that boy and the judge gave the seven-year-old to this guy from Iowa, and I think it’s horrendous. So I recognize the need for good foster care. I think our judges who make those decisions generally are untrained to do so, and may do it with a legal mind frame which has no sensitivity to human development.
SCARPINO: One more question.
SCARPINO: Is there anything that you wanted to say that I didn’t give you a chance to say, or anything that I should have asked you that I just didn’t have the insight to ask?
MAWBY: Oh, gosh. I haven’t even thought about that, Phil. No, I think I’ve had an opportunity to more than share. I admire the thoughtfulness you have evidenced in the questions. They’ve been stimulating, thought-provoking, very insightful. You’ve done a lot of homework. You talked with people, you’ve read, you’ve done a very careful and thorough job. I hope it’s useful to someone else. I can’t quite imagine that it will be. Would hope that some people would get some insight or useful perspective from this.
I can’t think of anything except to emphasize I do think that I have a real concern that we have made serious mistakes in our educational decisions in Michigan and nationally which have not been intended to, but have changed the whole educational process from at least K-12, through grade 12, I’ll say the elementary, secondary school system, have changed it to overemphasize the importance of a job and earning a living, and decreased the emphasis upon the broader perspective of living a life, and that we’ve denied, for example, the importance of history, because I don’t know the MEAP scores measure understanding of history of democracy. None of the measures talk about human relationships and values.
The only things that are in the Michigan Educational Assessment Program are those kinds of skills which can be measured statistically. You can do that for reading, you can do it for math, you can do it for certain aspects of science and that’s where it is, and everything else is left out. The classics are left out, music is left out. It used to be that the elementary years were primarily oriented to helping the individual youngster learn to live outside the home and family, to learn to relate to others, to be self, to be a sense, independent and hanging up his coat and getting his boots off, but helping the neighbor, learning to play with others, learning to be respectful and responsible, learning to read, study, discipline, follow instructions, et cetera, and we’re moving some of these math skills and reading skills too early, and I just think we’re missing, and a lot of the, you know, the insensitivities in the high school systems and the Columbines are a result of an insensitivity to individuals and individual development, and that we need to readdress that because we aren’t seeing in high places a leadership of statesmanship quality.
I deplore the situation in Washington and Lansing where elected officials do not have the qualities of character that sort of would describe the founding fathers. And even people, see it really bothers me, for example, that we have professionalized politics. Congress used to be a public service commitment in which you became a Congressperson to go to Washington for part of the year, as a civic responsibility, and now it’s my goal to become a Congressman for life, and I go there and I never earn more than my salary but I end up a multi-millionaire, and so I get troubled by the changes in value structures that are reflected in those patterns, and I don’t know if they’re valid or not but I, that’s why I continue to try to provide opportunities for engaging young people responsibly with power at earlier ages and so forth.
I think our high school should be dramatically changed. The statement in Michigan now by our governor and our state is that everyone must have a college education. We’ll be in a devil of a situation to get the work done if everybody has a college bachelor’s degree, because nobody will want to drive trucks or do all of the other things which need to be done, which are decent jobs, respectful jobs, good citizens making a livelihood as a cabinetmaker or a plumber. So I really am distressed by some of the emphases that we build in. Now in Michigan in order to get a high school diploma you have to pass college entrance requirement exams, and that seems to be counterproductive to what the real needs of society and the best interests of people are.
So I get troubled by those things and I wish there were more folks in philanthropy not imposing, see I don’t have the answers. I have ideas that I’d like to be considered, but I don’t have the answers about how things ought to be different. I just antagonize with a situation that Horace Mann institutionalized the K-12 system in 1835 in Massachusetts and we haven’t changed it since. We’ve just bureaucratized it. So, it’s been a privilege, Phil, to be engaged with you. You’ve done a great job of studying me and you know more about me than I do.
SCARPINO: [laughing] I doubt that.
MAWBY: So and I, other than to say it’s been a privilege, and I continue to think about those kinds of issues and appreciated having had a chance to deal with some of them with some perhaps effectiveness or impact in the years past.
SCARPINO: Well, Russ, on behalf of myself and the folks at the Tobias Center and the International Leadership Association, thank you for inviting me to your home to have this final session, and I really appreciate your time. It was really a pleasure.
MAWBY: Good. Thank you.