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Profile: Nothing Flaky About It
When cornflakes king Will Keith Kellogg established the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and its trust in 1930, he said that trustees should use the money as they pleased, "so long as it promotes the health, happiness, and well-being of children." Today the Kellogg Foundation is among the largest philanthropic grant-making foundations in the United States.
Now the foundation has scooped up KATHRYN KRECKE to serve as its new top lawyer. In early March, Krecke replaced general counsel SUSAN KATZ FRONING, who left the foundation to become a consultant to nonprofits. As general counsel, corporate secretary, and an officer of the Battle Creek, Michiganbased foundation, Krecke will be responsible for all legal and compliance matters. She comes to Kellogg from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, a private business school in Glendale, Arizona, where she had been GC.
The Michigan native will lead a three-person legal department at the Kellogg Foundation. "We're a small but mighty team," she says.
After graduating from the University of Michigan School of Law, Krecke joined Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander in Phoenix. At the firm she took on complex litigation, transactional work, bankruptcy, and real estate. "It was great experience," she says. "But ultimately I felt like an in-house practice was where I really wanted to be."
Krecke cut her in-house teeth in the law department of ConocoPhillips Company. "I've been really lucky in my career," she says. "At ConocoPhillips, I was exposed to a top-notch in-house law department." She worked in litigation management, risk management, and human resources, and also did some transactional work for the company.
In 2004 Krecke was asked to transfer with the company from Arizona to Houston. Her kids were still in school at the time, and Krecke opted to accept a severance package. "I did what some people called possible career suicide," she recalls. Krecke became a stay-at-home mom briefly before opening a mediation practice.
Krecke enjoyed the work, but she says that when a friend introduced her to Thunderbird in 2005, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Krecke joined the school of international business as its first-ever general counsel. During her eight years with Thunderbird, she was named corporate secretary and vice president and also took on responsibility for human resources. "It was my first deep dive into nonprofits and also into governance," she says.
At the Kellogg Foundation, the new GC has been spending her early days assessing what everyone around her brings to the table. "What I've really been focusing on since I got here is listening," says Krecke. She's been meeting with her legal team, other peers in the organization, and the foundation's trustees. Krecke predicts that her success in the role will depend on understanding the foundation's culture. "Nobody does this alone," she says. "It's a team effort, and I'm looking forward to seeing how our team contributes."