Clark, Celeste 1953–
Celeste Clark 1953–
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Celeste Clark holds the dual positions of vice president of nutrition marketing and communications worldwide, and senior vice president of nutrition and marketing services for cereal maker Kellogg Company. A career executive with the Battle Creek, Michigan company, she began as a nutritionist and rapidly rose through the corporate ranks. She credits her success to the diverse experience she received by working in several departments, along with commitment, persistence, and hard work. Clark advises young people on career planning and told Upscale magazine what she tells those who aspire: “Make sure you are technically competent and possess leadership skills to interact with people at all levels. I’ve always found that people who tend to succeed are those who have a good balance of both.”
Born in Pineville, Louisiana on June 11, 1953, Clark was raised in Colfax, Louisiana by her parents James and Mary Lamell Abraham. She was the ninth child in a family of four boys and six girls. She graduated from Mary E. Graham High School as valedictorian of her class. It was in high school that her interest in nutrition, particularly dietetics, surfaced. In a recent interview Clark said, “My mother had hypertension and I wanted to know more about [dietetics] to help her.”
Clark knew she wanted to pursue this interest in college, but once there, she found it to be a tough course and found herself questioning whether she’d made the right choice. Apparently she did, for she earned her bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1975, graduating summa cum laude. That summer Clark worked as a dietetic intern at the Pinecrest State School in Pineville. A state-run facility for the mentally retarded and disabled, her duties included developing menus with specific diets for patients in a broad range of age and health needs, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Two years later she earned her master of science in nutrition at Iowa State University, having obtained scholarships for her undergraduate and graduate study. She received the honor of “Outstanding Young Alumnus” at Iowa State University. In addition to class ranking, character traits such as congeniality and team-building
At a Glance…
Born june 11, 1953 in Pineville, Louisiana; daughter of Nathan and Mrs. Abraham; husband’s name Leon; chi I-dren: Cecily and Christopher Clark. Education: Southern University, B.S., 1975; low a State University, M.S., 1977. Religion: Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal.
Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Ml, nutritionist, public affairs department 1977-1978; Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Ml, manager, nutrition communications 1978-1980; manager, print media services 1980-1982; assistant product manager, marketing department, 1982-1983. Director of corporate publicity 1983-1988; Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Ml director of food sefvice marketingand sales, 1988-1989; Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Ml, vice president nutrition marketing and communications worldwide, 1989; Kellogg USA, Inc., BattleCreek, Ml, senior vice president nutrition and marketing services, 1991.
Member: American Dietetic Association, American Home Economics Association, Association of National Advertisers, Home Economists in Business, Michigan Home Economics Association, Omicron Nu, Phi Upsilon Omicron, Alpha Kappa Mu, Pi Gamma MU, Planning board for the Office of Cancer Communications, Advocacy Committee of CARE.
Selected awards: Outstanding Young Alumnus, Iowa State University, 1981 ; Professional Woman of the Year by local branch of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Organization, 1986; One of 100 of the most promising black women in corporate America, Ebony magazine, 1991; One of the most visible women in corporate America, Upscale magazine, 1994.
skills, and being an active graduate student all contributed to being honored. Clark was a graduate assistant in the food and nutrition department of Iowa State University in 1975, and published several nutrition-related subjects.
Celeste Clark embarked on a year of changes in 1977 when she earned her masters degree, was hired by Kellogg Company, and married Leon Clark, Jr., a chemist. While she had sent out her resume to three different companies, she received two offers, one of which was from Kellogg Company. Clark said she chose Kellogg because, “They were a good company and well known, they were a representative of health, and their offer was closest to my fiance.”
Her first position was as a nutritionist in the public affairs department of Kellogg. In 1978 she became manager of nutrition communications. Clark served in that position for two years, becoming manager of print media services in 1980. In 1982 she became assistant product manager in the marketing department. Becoming director of corporate publicity in 1983, she was responsible for corporate and product publicity programs, recipe development, and consumer affairs. She was instrumental in the company’s award-winning All-Bran/Cancer Information publicity campaign. The campaign, of several years’ duration beginning in 1984, was the joint effort of a team of Kellogg employees and the National Cancer Institute. Its aim was public awareness of a high-fiber, low fat diet in possibly reducing the risk of certain cancers. Clark and the campaign received publicity in 1987 when she presented Willard Scott of the NBC Today Show with a thirty-pound All Bran muffin.
Clark has traveled extensively during her career. She has written and contributed to articles for professional publication and has spoken at numerous conferences around the world on nutrition related subjects. These have included the importance of grain-based foods, worldwide consumer attitudes on nutrition, and breakfast consumption patterns. The varied audience and locations have included the International Dietetics Association in the Philippines and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland. Her travels have also led her to internationally-based Kellogg locations.
Clark has testified before state and federal agencies on nutrition, such as consumer privacy and advertiser information requests, and hearings on federal food programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
In addition to her career, Clark manages to find time for devotion to children and her church. She is the youth director for the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopalian church in Battle Creek, and has taught Sunday school classes for both adults and children. She has also been a lay reader during services, and has given speeches in her own and other churches. She also works in church mission. Clark believes in advocacy for children and says that although she has limited time, she would devote the bulk of it to children. Family values are important to Clark. She and her husband have two children. She feels that helping to prepare children for life is vital, and working with them gives her enjoyment because she finds them loving, giving, and trusting. She has taken her message of nutrition to schools, reading and acting out books that she can then tie in to a nutrition theme.
Clark said she loves to read but has little time for it; waiting in airports allows her to enjoy her favorite authors, including Maya Angelou and Alice Walker. She reads a diverse group of authors, such as John Grisham, Don Baldeci, Scott Turow, and Peter Hogue. She likes to read books from other countries as this gives her a sense of, and allows her to converse with, people in their own countries when she travels.
In 1991 Clark was named one of “100 Of The Most Promising Black Women In Corporate America” by Ebony magazine. To receive the honor the magazine said the executives were “singled out by their peers and officials at their respective companies as being among the most promising. “Clark told Ebony, “Success means maximizing the potential of every opportunity, backed up with hard work, desire and determination. Don’t be afraid to go for it, but recognize up front that it won’t be a bed of roses.” In her dual vice-presidency roles, Clark is responsible for corporate publicity, consumer information, the Kellogg kitchens, and nutrition education programs. She recently described herself as being perceived as tough. She said, “I’m not afraid to let people know where I stand on an issue. You need to stand up for what you believe in.” She also said that there is a time and place for everything and that one needs to be flexible. “Exude the confidence of silence,” she advised.
Ebony, January 1991, pp. 68, 82.
Black Enterprise, February 1992, p. 90.
The Iowa Stater, January 1990, p. 9.
Upscale, August 1994, p. 137.
Clark, Celeste A., Personal interview with author April 9, 1997.
—Sandy J. Stiefer
"Clark, Celeste 1953–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/clark-celeste-1953
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