Q&A: Faye Alexander Nelson


Faye Alexander Nelson. Courtesy W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

As director of Michigan programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Faye Alexander Nelson leads and oversees the foundation’s investments in Michigan to create conditions that ensure children have opportunities to thrive in equitable communities.

Nelson leads the foundation’s statewide grant-making priorities, in collaboration with grantees, communities and other stakeholders throughout the region.

Most recently, she served as the 2017-2018 Sojourner Truth Fellow at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Previously, Nelson was VP of DTE Energy and president and board chair of the DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company. She also served as the inaugural president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and helped lead the restoration of Detroit's riverfront.

Biggest career break? 

I have had the great fortune of having a number of amazing professional opportunities, such as developing the Detroit riverfront, leading the DTE Energy Foundation and now overseeing the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Michigan programs, which has provided an absolutely wonderful opportunity to join in the movement of making a difference in the communities where I live and serve. 

Proudest moment?

Being a catalyst for transformational change

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

Never let anyone define you

How did you make your first dollar?

As a cashier at McDonald’s

Most-treasured possession? 

My wedding ring

Dream job? 

Every job that I have held has been a dream job, as each position has made me better, allowed me to contribute value to the community and receive incredible lessons, all of which have made me a better person both professionally as well as personally.

If you were president for a day, you would … ? 

Make a point to illustrate how similar we are as people, as opposed to disseminating discord and disharmony to differentiate groups

Last book you read? 

The President is Missing,by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Last search term you Googled? 

Golf schools

Your worst habit? 

Burning the candle at both ends …

To unwind, you like to … ?


Dream vacation?

South Africa

Favorite food? 

French bread

Person you most admire? 

My late father, Ellis Alexander

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