Behind the sweet smiles brought by iconic candies like M&M’s and Snickers lies a dedicated force for good: the Mars Wrigley Foundation. This philanthropic arm of the renowned confectionery giant aims to not only sweeten our lives but also make the world a happier, healthier place.
Founded in 2012, the foundation embodies the Mars Five Principles, particularly responsibility and mutuality. Its mission? To create “better communities and happier, healthier smiles by giving people opportunities to flourish.” This noble goal translates into four key areas of focus:
- Oral Health: From tackling dental neglect in underserved communities to educating children about proper brushing techniques, the foundation promotes good oral hygiene through grants, partnerships, and awareness campaigns.
- Mint and Cocoa Communities: Recognizing the impact of its supply chains, the foundation invests in improving the lives of mint and cocoa farmers and their families. This includes initiatives for education, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability.
- Waste Reduction: Committed to a cleaner planet, the foundation fights litter and plastic pollution through innovative recycling programs and community engagement initiatives.
- Vibrant Communities: The foundation believes in strengthening the communities where Mars Wrigley operates. This involves supporting local charities, disaster relief efforts, and programs that foster well-being and social connection.
But the Mars Wrigley Foundation’s impact goes beyond grants and projects. It’s about collaboration. The foundation actively partners with NGOs, governments, and other like-minded organizations to amplify its reach and create lasting change. Their commitment to collaboration is evident in their partnership with Feeding America to address food insecurity and their joint effort with UNICEF to improve oral health in developing countries.
The foundation’s dedication is also reflected in its transparency. By readily sharing information about its work, financial commitments, and impact assessments, it builds trust and fosters accountability. This open approach allows potential partners and the public to see how their support translates into real-world improvements.
The foundation’s commitment to continuous learning and improvement, coupled with its measurable impact in several areas, suggests a genuine desire to make a positive difference while continually raising the bar on itself.
The Mars Wrigley Foundation is a reminder that corporate social responsibility can be more than just a slogan. By harnessing the power of its brands and resources, the foundation strives to create a ripple effect of smiles and positive change, leaving a sweeter taste in the world, one project at a time.
At the Helm
In the world of corporate philanthropy, the role of an Executive Director is pivotal in shaping the impact and direction of a foundation. At the helm of the Wrigley Company Foundation stands Anne Vela-Wagner, a seasoned leader with a passion for social change and a commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
As the Executive Director of the foundation, Anne Vela-Wagner brings a wealth of experience to the table. Her expertise spans across various domains, including strategy and partnership development, employee engagement, process improvement, and internal communications. This diverse skill set positions her as a dynamic leader capable of navigating the intricate landscape of corporate social responsibility.
Her academic journey laid a strong foundation for her career. Holding a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science from Northwestern University, she combines her academic knowledge with real-world experience to drive meaningful outcomes for the Mars Wrigley Foundation.
At the heart of Vela-Wagner’s responsibilities lies the leadership of the Foundation’s global partnerships and programs. This includes the development and implementation of the foundation’s strategy, impact assessment, and overall management. By working closely with executive members of the Foundation Board, she ensures that the Mars Wrigley Foundation remains at the forefront of impactful philanthropy.
Notably, Vela-Wagner spearheads two signature initiatives of Mars Incorporated – the Mars Volunteer Program and the Mars Ambassador Program. These initiatives reflect the commitment of Mars Wrigley Confectionery associates worldwide to create positive social change. Under her guidance, these programs serve as a testament to the company’s dedication to community engagement and the belief that employees can be powerful agents of change.
A proud Chicagoan, Anne Vela-Wagner’s commitment to her community extends beyond her role at the Wrigley Company Foundation. She has actively participated in and led numerous volunteer projects, leveraging her skills and passion to make a tangible impact on the ground. This hands-on approach to community engagement reflects not only her dedication to philanthropy but also her understanding of the practical aspects of driving change at the grassroots level.
She has also lent her expertise to various non-profit boards. This demonstrates her commitment to contributing to the broader landscape of social impact and aligning corporate initiatives with the needs of the wider community.
Under Anne Vela-Wagner’s leadership, the Mars Wrigley Foundation is poised for a future marked by continued growth and positive change. Her strategic acumen, coupled with a genuine passion for making a difference, positions the foundation as a key player in the corporate philanthropy arena. As she continues to lead the charge, she remains dedicated to building a legacy of social responsibility that extends far beyond the world of confectionery, making the future a bit sweeter for us all.
As with all purpose-driven guests on The Caring Economy, we learn from the interview with Anne Vela Wagner and the Mars Wrigley Foundation reminding us of the potential each one holds and why we must promote volunteering making a positive difference in our communities.