As one of her first directives after being named president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America in September 2022, Leslie Motter created the chief strategy and diversity officer position focused on integrating the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts into the organizational strategy.
Some of the key responsibilities include developing strategies, driving organizational change, establishing greater transparency and building systems of accountability through the lens of DEI. This is the first position within the senior leadership team charged specifically with keeping DEI at the forefront.
After an extensive nationwide search, Make-A-Wish America has announced that Karen S. Wells will be taking on the role of chief strategy and diversity officer, effective Jan. 9, according to a press release.
With more than 20 years of experience in key leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies in addition to experience as the CEO of a nonprofit and the founder of a consulting business, Wells is uniquely qualified to serve the organization in this first-of-its-kind role.
Wells comes to Make-A-Wish after having served as CEO of Bridge Communities, a grassroots organization providing housing and supportive services to families experiencing homelessness. Prior to Bridge Communities, Wells spent 20 years at McDonald’s USA, where she advanced through regional positions to eventually serve at the vice president level in various innovation and strategy roles. She also led the McDonald’s African American Employee Network, creating the model of success for the largest affinity network within the company.
In addition to her contributions within organizations and companies, Wells founded AIW Group, a boutique consulting company focused on leadership development, philanthropy and cultural change through DEI.
“Karen has proven time and time again throughout her career that she understands what it takes to build a winning strategy that organizations and their employees can all take pride in,” Motter said. “When you look at Karen’s body of work, it’s clear that she’s incredibly passionate about strategy development and DEI, and in this role, she’ll be able to focus on both as we work to integrate strategy and DEI to drive results.”
“I am thrilled to be joining the Make-A-Wish America family and honored to lead and integrate overall strategy and DEI in tandem for the organization, which are two areas I’ve been passionate about and dedicated myself to in every role I have had,” Wells said. “It’s such an exciting opportunity for me to help Make-A-Wish get even closer to its vision of one day granting the wish of every eligible child.”
Wells holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Xavier University, an MBA from Meredith College and a DEI Certification from Cornell University.