2018 SAAB National Conference Speakers


Mr. Aranthan “AJ” Jones II, Chief of Staff, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Mr. Jones works with the president and CEO to ensure alignment and advancement of grantmaking investments across the organization. He is also responsible for the execution of the foundation’s policy, communications, knowledge management and analytic strategies. As an officer of the foundation, Jones serves as a key spokesperson on behalf of the organization and works in coordination with the president and CEO and the executive leadership team on the foundation’s portfolio/grantee investments and operations. Additionally, he is responsible for establishing and managing public-private partnerships and serves as the primary interface with multilateral institutions, global and domestic investment agencies, corporations, public/private philanthropies and governments.

Prior to joining the foundation, Jones served as the head of worldwide government affairs for Gilead Sciences, a leading biotech company. At Gilead, he led a global team to develop, advance and engage public policy and regulatory systems to expand access and pharmaceutical innovation. He was also responsible for aligning strategic communications and public policy engagements for governmental and nongovernmental audiences.

Jones also previously served as health practice chairman and principal at the Podesta Group in Washington, D.C., where he was lead strategist and public policy consultant for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits and global foundations. Additionally, he served on the firm’s management committee, business communication committee and was co-chairman of its investment committee.

Prior to joining Podesta, Jones was the policy director for the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip office, headed by Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. He was one of four policy directors, the first African American to hold this position and the highest-ranking African American healthcare advisor. During his congressional tenure, Jones was directly responsible for the crafting of more than 214 pieces legislation, 142 of which became law. He also served as policy director for the Congressional Katrina and Rita Leadership Working Group which was charged with coordinating and directing all congressional action on Gulf Coast recovery matters.

Jones has received numerous national awards and citations acknowledging his leadership in a myriad of public policy areas, including being named by Iowa State University’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as one of the 150 most fascinating graduates.

While a staple in the healthcare policy community, he is also well established in the financial services community. His exceptional knowledge of capital markets, municipal bond markets, derivatives, pensions and debt-securitization led to his appointment as one of the lead policy negotiators for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) which created the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

A guest lecturer for the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, Harvard University’s School of Public Health and Harvard University’s School of Medicine, Jones lectures widely on economic/finance policy, healthcare quality, philanthropy, disaster preparedness policy, international relations, advocacy, executive leadership and diversity/inclusion.

He has worked internationally in Nigeria, South Africa, Germany and France. He can speak Yoruba (a prominent Nigerian language) and is learning conversational Hebrew.

He currently serves on the following boards: Landon School (an all-boys, grades 3-12 private school), The Norwood School (a co-ed, K-8 private school), Battle Creek Unlimited, National Collaborative for Health Equity, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and US Soccer Foundation-DC Leadership Council.

Jones holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and anthropology from Iowa State University and received his graduate training in international health policy with concentrations in economic development and finance from George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

Greg Cunningham

Bio Forthcoming

Dr. Garrad McClendon, Assistant Professor/Department of Education, Chicago State University

Dr. Garrard McClendon is a professor, author, film director, and talk show host.  He is host of the PBS show CounterPoint on Lakeshore Public Media and has hosted The McClendon Report, Garrard McClendon Live on CLTV in Chicago, and he earned an Emmy Award for his show “Off 63rd with Garrard McClendon on WYCC.” McClendon is the director of the anti-violence film, “Forgiving Cain.” and he is an associate professor at Chicago State University.

He has authored the books, “Ax or Ask? The African American Guide to Better English,” and “Donda’s Rules: The Scholarly Works of Dr. Donda West (Mother of Kanye West). Besides the EMMY, McClendon has earned several other awards including the ONE REGION Award, Associated Press Community Impact Award, an NAACP Champion Award, a LINKS award, a Human Relations Commission Leadership Award, and a Monarch Award.

McClendon is a cancer survivor fulfilling the legacy of his parents by being the Executive Director of the Milton & Ruby McClendon Educational Foundation, and he is on the boards of the Sheila A. Doyle Foundation and Donda’s House Foundation. Garrard and his wife, Quanica, live in Chicago.


Richard L. Taylor Jr., Author, Speaker, Consultant

Charismatic Chicago native Richard Taylor began public speaking professionally in 2011 and has since cultivated a successful career as a motivational speaker, author, and consultant. He holds a B.A. in Corporate

Communications from Northern Illinois University, and it was his involvement as a peer mentor on NIU’s campus that inspired him to begin speaking on a larger platform. Richard focuses on empowering audiences of all ages through helping them to overcome issues such as depression, suicide and low self-esteem. Richard has shared the stage with celebrities, global thought

leaders, and philanthropists alike. He has graced several stages as a keynote speaker for graduations, conferences, campaigns, and events across the country.

In 2013, Richard made a shift from microphone to manuscript, authoring his debut book Unashamed: The Process of Reconstruction, which sold over 7,000 copies in the first year of its release and made Amazon’s best- seller list. Shortly thereafter, he flooded social media outlets, chronicling his motivational messages and inspiring encounters from speaking and mentorship; perhaps most notably, his YouTube series “Getting Over The Hump.” That same year he launched his trademark brand, Unashamed Nation, which is the parent company that encompasses all of his initiatives and business ventures. The following year, he authored his second book, Between the Dream, which also made Amazon’s best-seller list upon its release in November 2014. In his free time, Richard runs an independent mentorship program for young men called I.C.E. (I Choose Empowerment), and since initiating the program at his Alma Mater, Martin Luther King College Prep, he has mentored over 500 young men in Chicago. He is also an OpEd writer for TechBook Online and the Good Men Project, and serves as a professional consultant to several colleges and organizations.

On stage or on the page, Richard’s remarkable display of transparency enables him to connect with audiences beyond the surface of the subject matter and continues to be the hallmark of his career. His inspiring message of hope and perseverance delivered with undeniable authenticity has helped to establish him as one of the most influential voices of this generation. A dynamic speaker, thought-provoking author, and passionate mentor, whichever platform he uses, Richard continuously proves himself to be an agent for change and an advocate for life.