Hershey invests $1.5m in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund - General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Damien Atkins to step down

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Hershey has announced the departure of its General Counsel and Secretary and also the TMCF investment. Pic: The Hershey Company
Hershey has announced the departure of its General Counsel and Secretary and also the TMCF investment. Pic: The Hershey Company

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Hershey is to invest $1.5m in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), America’s largest organisation exclusively representing the Black College Community to establish a scholarship endowment, with the goal to increase the figure to $3m over the next 10 years - and in a separate announcement Atkins has left the company due to a family illness.

The TMCF endowment will be used for students pursuing degrees in food science in TMCF-member-schools, which include public colleges that provide advanced education for underrepresented populations. 

"Hershey has been proudly associated with TMCF for more than a decade, and I am delighted to see the evolution of our Hershey partnership grow​," said Alicia Petross, VP Talent Acquisition + Diversity & Inclusion. "Our aim is to make a meaningful difference for deserving under-represented students who aspire to a fulfilling career in food science​."

The historic endowment is the first time a company has committed to endow a TMCF scholarship. Donations to TMCF typically go into the organization's general fund.

"We are extremely grateful to Hershey for their generous support and commitment to supporting our students, particularly during these difficult and challenging times​," said Dr Harry L Williams, President & CEO of TMCF. "This scholarship endowment will make it possible for students at our schools to pursue their passion of studying and earning a degree in food science. This is a welcomed investment in the future of our nation​." 

Hershey said it has increased its support of Black and Brown communities across the United States to help fight racial injustice after the death of George Floyd. This includes a $100,000 donation to the Equal Justice Initiative and elevating its focus on its diversity and inclusion priorities. "Hershey took action in this critical time of increased focus on racial and social justice to review our programs and partnerships to ensure we are doing what we can to make an impact​," said Chris Scalia, SVP & CHRO and TMCF Board Member.


In a separate announcement, the Reese's, KitKat and SkinnyPop maker has announced that Damien Atkins, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, will be resigning due to family illness effective January 31, 2021.

The company said in connection with his pending resignation, Atkins will step down from his General Counsel and Secretary role immediately and will focus on the transition of his responsibilities until his departure. James Turoff, currently Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, will serve as Acting General Counsel until it completes its internal and external search process for Atkins' successor.

"Damien has been a true enterprise leader within Hershey, and he will be missed​," said Michele Buck, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey Company. "In addition to his legal expertise, Damien has strengthened the partnership with our commercial operations and been a champion for talent development and inclusion in and outside of the company​."

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