Russel G. Mawby was, for many years, Chairman and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation based in Battle Creek, Michigan. Under his leadership the foundation dramatically grew in size and influence nationally and internationally. WKKF became a national leader for philanthropy through support of innovative programs in many fields including adult continuing education, development of the community college system, access to primary health care, and the growth of leadership development initiatives, especially through the Kellogg National Fellowship Program. Dr. Mawby was a pioneer in many fields of leadership. His early grantmaking at the Kellogg Foundation led to the establishment of Agricultural Leadership Programs in 42 states and three countries around the world and is represented by the International Association of Programs of Agriculture (IAPAL).  It is estimated that over 15,000 agricultural and food system leadership alumni now serve in leadership positions at all levels of the industry and in hundreds of local, state and federal elected positions.

Russ Mawby’s leadership was profound in the field of philanthropy and foundation development as well.  Russ was instrumental in establishing the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. In 1972, “Russ” joined other Michigan grantmakers to form the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), serving as the chair of their first conference and a founding member and chair of their board. He played an important role in shaping philanthropy across the United States, fostering the concept of community foundations in Michigan, preparing and nurturing leaders for the field, and advocating policy that encouraged individuals, groups, and corporations to recognize their opportunities to be “people helping people”. Personally, he served on many boards, spanning the non-profit sector at every level: international, national, university, and within his community. Dr. Mawby was especially active in efforts to make philanthropy and volunteerism a recognized academic discipline. He pushed to develop high quality, standards-based educational materials on philanthropy and volunteerism for K-12 students and realized a vision to establish the “Learning to Give” program, now the leading learning portal for philanthropy education in the world. 

The Russell G. Mawby “People Helping People” Award

Following Dr. Mawby’s passing in 2017, a group of grateful individuals raised support to establish an award program in his honor. The Russell G. Mawby “People Helping People Award” is given every other year to an individual leader or to their organization in recognition of ongoing contributions to the health and well-being of communities. The first recipients of the award were Paul Farmer who pioneered community based health approaches across the world, and Jim Yong Kim, a physician and anthropologist who served as the 12th President of the World Bank. 

“You always come down to the basic reality, that in the final analysis in life, only people are important, only people make a difference. Any organization, any institution, is a consequence of the people who are involved in it, and its creation, and in its ongoing existence.” ~ Russell G. Mawby

The Alliance is pleased to announce that the 2023 Mawby Award recognized Dr. Chandra Ford and Dr. Edward O’Neil for outstanding leadership in advancing health equity.

Dr. Chandra L. Ford received her PhD in Health Behavior from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and completed postdoctoral fellowships in Social Medicine (at UNC School of Medicine) and Epidemiology (at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health). Much of her work is dedicated to studying the impacts of racism and inequities on public health and supporting interdisciplinary research to prevent and combat the consequences of racism. She is lead editor of Racism: Science & Tools for the Public Health Professional, which was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title of 2020 by the American Library Association’s Choice magazine. She is also the founding director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice and Health at UCLA. A dynamic and in-demand speaker, teacher and author, Ford’s contributions to public scholarship are profound. Her eminence has been recognized by a number of accolades, including: the 2020 Wade Hampton Frost Award from the Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Black Women Physicians; a TrueHero Award from TruEvolution; and the 2019 Paul Cornely Award. In 2023, Dr. Ford joined the faculty at Emory University, where she holds a joint appointment in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Behavioral, Social and Health Education Sciences at the Rollins School of Public Health.

Dr. Edward O’Neil Jr earned his M.D. from George Washington University and completed a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Boston Medical Center. In 1998, he founded Omni-Med, ( which has run programs in Belize, Guyana, and Kenya. Omni Med has partnered with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and US Peace Corps to develop an innovative health service program in Uganda, which has trained over 1200 community health workers since 1998. Dr. O’Neil is the author of two highly acclaimed books published by the American Medical Association, Awakening Hippocrates: A Primer on Health, Poverty, and Global Service, and A Practical Guide to Global Health Service. Since April 2007, Dr. O’Neil has served as Chair of a Brookings Institution Taskforce on Health Service in Sub-Saharan Africa. His practice of leadership and his practical application of knowledge to the health challenges of individuals and communities led to his being named to the Advisory Board of the Center for the Advanced Study of Leadership at the University of Maryland. His contributions have also been recognized by both The Brookings Institution and the United Center for Citizen Diplomacy. In addition to serving as the Medical Director of Omni Med, Dr. O’Neil is a practicing emergency physician at Steward St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston.

The award was presented at the 25th Global Conference of the International Leadership Association on October 15, 2023, in Vancouver, Candada.

Watch the acceptance remarks of Dr. Ford and Dr. O’Neil:

Watch the Interview with Dr. Chandra Ford and Dr. Ed O’Neil, with Barbara Krimgold as host.

Award Committee Members

James McHale (Selection Committee Chair), President, CEO Woodward Hines Education Foundation, Jackson, Mississippi (Former WKKF Executive Officer)

Joselin Cisneros, Education Fellow, Kresge Foundation, Troy, Michigan

Brighid Dwyer, Vice Dean, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Barbara Krimgold, Founding President of the Culture of Health Equity Network at the Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF).  Director, Kaiser Permanente Minority Leadership Development Program. Director of the WKKF Health Scholars Program

Mindi Spencer, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Kathryn Johnson, Co-Founder, Center for Global Services, Board Member International Leadership Association, Greenbrae, California (KNFP Fellow)

Dorothy Johnson, Former WKKF Board Member, Philanthropic Leader, Namesake for Dorothy Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Close Friend and Colleague of Russ Mawby

Kyle Caldwell, President of the Council of Michigan Foundations, US Council of Foundations, Grand Rapids, Michigan. P.O. Box 329, Grand Haven, MI 49417-1385

John Burkhardt, ex officio, Chair, Alliance of Leadership Fellows, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Former KNFP)