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General Mills Leadership Forum Celebrates Five Years of Helping Local Leaders Build Skills


Innovative program provides capacity-building expertise to hundreds of local nonprofit organizations

Since launching five years ago, the General Mills Leadership Forum has helped more than 1,000 Minneapolis-St. Paul nonprofit leaders sharpen their leadership skills by connecting them with nationally known business consultants – an experience many say they could not afford alone. Regular participants include police officers, church leaders, educators, and directors of community service based organizations.

“This program gives us the tools to enhance the quality and leadership of our organization,” said participant Joe Cavanaugh, founder and CEO of local nonprofit Youth Frontiers. “Monetary donations will only take you so far if you don’t have a quality staff to manage the organization.”

Participants not only benefit from building their own leadership skills, but also by sharing what they’ve learned with the organizations they lead. Attendees cite higher productivity, new approaches to managing conflict and better methods for inspiring innovation as benefits that the forum has brought to their organizations.

“As champions for a stronger community, we know that it takes more than money to increase the health and vitality of neighborhoods and cities,” said Ellen Goldberg Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “We believe that investing in the leadership capabilities of our nonprofit partners will continue to have a significant, lasting impact.”

The General Mills Leadership Forum invites nonprofit leaders from the Minneapolis and St. Paul area to attend the quarterly series of free, half-day seminars given by nationally known business consultants.

General Mills reaches out to consultants who are already booked to train the company’s employees and asks them to extend their time, pro bono, to teach an additional session for the General Mills Leadership Forum.

“We ask them to join us in helping this significant sector of the economy by sharing their expertise with nonprofit leaders,” said Kevin Wilde, chief learning officer of General Mills. “We have learned that our speakers are eager to find ways to give back in the midst of their busy travel schedules and have found them willing to freely give of themselves and their time to help this important effort.”

General Mills hosted the final Leadership Forum seminar of 2008 on Nov. 6 with a lively presentation by John Sweeny, owner of the Brave New Workshop. Sweeny shared how the skills and behaviors of improvisational theater can also be used to help drive innovative leadership.

The Leadership Forum will continue with four quarterly seminars in 2009.

About General Mills
One of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills operates in over 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., General Mills had fiscal 2008 global net sales of US$14.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales. Visit

About the General Mills Foundation
The mission of the General Mills Foundation is to nourish communities. In fiscal 2008, General Mills awarded $87 million to communities across the country, representing more than 5 percent of company pretax profits that year. Of the total, the Foundation contributed more than $21 million in grants in the targeted areas of youth nutrition and fitness, social services, education, and arts and culture. In addition, General Mills employees leverage the company’s financial contributions by volunteering in the community. Some 78-percent of employees volunteer. Visit


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