Diana Derige, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Child Nutrition, particularly Breastfeeding

CONTACT: dnd@wkkf.org, 269-968-1611

IP TAKE: Derige has made breastfeeding advocacy her top priority, encouraging more widespread adoption of the practice in communities where formula is the norm.

PROFILE: Since 2010, Diana Derige has served as program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in what is now their Food, Health and Well-Being team. Derige's particular point of focus is their First Food initiative, which advocates for natural breast milk under the umbrella of Kellogg's Healthy Kids program. Advocating for increasing the number of women that breastfeed their children is based on the the fact that children in their first months of life need natural breast milk to develop healthy immune systems, emotional balance, and educational readiness—and there is plenty of hard science to back this up. The initiative funds community projects that support breastfeeding mothers, ones that seek to change the existing social norms connected with breastfeeding, and supports other groups that work toward similar goals.  Derige has appeared at many conferences speaking on this subject, and has also contributed eloquent blog entries for Altarum Institute and MomsRising.org.

Through Kellogg's Health Kids program, in May 2013 the foundation granted the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi $875,000 to improve breastfeeding and infant health in the Mississippi Delta through systemic state and local change as well as through community engagement.  So far 2014 has resulted in many grants in this arena as well, ranging in amounts of $10,000 to $475,000 to Artemis Medical Society, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Institute for Women's Policy Research, Michigan Breastfeeding Network, National Hispanic Medical Association, Reachning Our Sisters Everywhere, and United States Breastfeeding Committee.

While Kellogg has supported research and policy on nutrition for some time, its approach seems to have taken a slightly different direction since Derige joined. Kellogg's fact sheet on First Food, which names Derige as its only contact, explains that "fostering change will require a variety of efforts, from offering more prenatal education opportunities to promoting 'baby friendly' practices in hospitals to accelerating a cultural shift in the acceptance of breastfeeding." Birthing Project USA, for example, a national program focused on the health of African American mothers and their children, received support from Kellogg.

Prior to joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2010, Derige worked for more than 10 years in positions ranging from program officer for The Chicago Community Trust, to state coordinator for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, to program manager for the Illinois Public Health Institute. 

Derige has a bachelor’s degree in arts, sociology and women’s studies and a master’s degree in public health, both from the University of Michigan. She also holds a certificate in executive education from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and completed a leadership development program through the Center for Creative Leadership-Europe in Brussels, Belgium. Derige has also been a fellow for the National Hispana Leadership Institute, Mid-America Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, and the University of Michigan’s HIV/AIDS Intervention, South Africa.

Perhaps due to her education, organization affiliations, and previous work experience, you are likely to see Derige's name associated with grants to organizations lthat focus more directly on breastfeeding as a social and community issue rather than as a subject of research.