Ellen Taaffe, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Leadership, has played a transformational role in building and developing consumer brands, companies, teams, and careers. She leverages over thirty years of leadership, marketing, and management experience as the Director of Women's Leadership Programs. Ellen oversees the strategy development, operational plans, and implementation of this critical initiative. She is the faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Seminar series, a signature event for graduating women, and plans programming throughout the academic year across programs to help Kellogg women build careers and lives of impact and meaning. She is a Co-Chair of the Global Women’s Summit and is a Northwestern University Public Voices Faculty Fellow for the Op-Ed Project.
Ellen started her career at PepsiCo, as an Account Sales Representative before transitioning into Brand Management, where she built, led and managed portfolios of iconic brands like Quaker and Gatorade. She played a pivotal role leading the Quaker Snacks portfolio delivering three years of double-digit profit and revenue growth leading the eventual integration into the Frito Lay Division. As VP of PepsiCo Corporate Health and Wellness Strategy, she developed the strategy to reshape the innovation pipeline and product mix towards healthier options, revised the companies advertising guidelines and developed media partnerships to support the shifting environment resulting from the childhood obesity epidemic. During her two decade career, Ellen’s work was recognized multiple times for business impact including being awarded the Gold Effie award.
Upon leaving PepsiCo, Ellen joined Royal Caribbean as SVP of marketing and gained expertise in e-commerce, CRM, loyalty club marketing, and guest/customer care and was part of the executive team that launched a new class of ships and a new brand. Following that role, she became head of marketing for the $7B portfolio of mass brands at the Whirlpool Corporation. She was instrumental in merging the cultures, integrating go-to-market strategies, building retailer partnerships, and defining the brand architecture of the recently acquired Maytag Corporation brands in concert with the Whirlpool and Kitchenaid brands, while leading teams and partners through the turbulent times of the economic downturn. She later joined one of Whirlpool’s suppliers and became President of Smith-Dahmer Associates (now Ravel Research post-sale). In this role, Ellen diversified the client base, installed new financial management processes, and introduced digital research and innovation consulting offerings which enabled the owners to retire and sell the company. During her tenure, the company was named to the Inc. 500/5000 List of Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies. After her departure, she expanded her board governance work, provided strategic consulting and executive coaching, and later joined Kellogg in 2016.
Since 2011, Ellen has been as an independent Board Director and member of the Audit, Compensation, and Nominating & Governance Committees for John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. (NASDAQ: JBSS). JBSS is a processor, packager, marketer and distributor of nut and dried fruit based products that are sold under a variety of private brands and under the Company's Fisher®, Orchard Valley Harvest®, Squirrel Brand®, Southern Style Nuts® and Sunshine Country® brand names.In 2015, she was elected to serve on the Board of the Hooker Furniture Corporation (NASDAQ: HOFT) and as a member of the Audit, Compensation, and Nominating Governance Committees, where she serves as Chairperson. HOFT is a designer, marketer and importer of case-goods (wooden and metal furniture), leather furniture and fabric-upholstered furniture for the residential, hospitality and contract markets under a variety of private and corporate brands. Ellen became a Board Leadership Fellow in 2016 with the National Association of Corporate Directors. In 2017, she was named to the Directors to Watch list by Board & Directors Magazine.
Ellen received her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in 1997. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Florida, where she is in the student Hall of Fame.