Walton Family Foundation Staff
Fawzia Ahmed is a senior program officer for the Foundation’s K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Fawzia served as a senior director with Arabella Advisors. Fawzia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K., and an MBA from the Yale School of Management, New Haven, Conn.
Lori Drummer Armistead is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to her role with the Foundation, she served as director of state projects at the national non-profits Alliance for School Choice and Advocates for School Choice. Previously, she was the director of public affairs and the director of the education task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council. Armistead began her career serving as the legislative advisor to Ohio’s then-Assistant Majority Leader. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
Marisa is a deputy director for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as chief of staff and senior advisor in the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, she was a director at the New York City Department of Education, a Leadership Fellow at NewSchools Venture Fund, and a founding Education Pioneers Fellow for Aspire Public Schools, along with past work in management consulting and organizational development. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Nick is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, he led a variety of cases within the education field for The Parthenon Group Education Practice. He has also worked for the Louisiana State Department of Education and the New York City Department of Education. Nick holds a B.S. in psychology from Calvin College, a master’s in applied developmental psychology from Fordham University and is currently a doctoral candidate in applied developmental psychology from Fordham University.
With more than 23 years of conservation expertise, Margaret Bowman is deputy director for the Environment Program overseeing the Foundation’s freshwater conservation initiative. Prior to joining the Foundation, Margaret directed the Lenfest Ocean Program at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she supported policy-relevant scientific research related to sustainable fisheries. For more than a decade Margaret worked at American Rivers, and she has also worked on international environmental issues and represented corporate environmental clients in a law practice. Margaret received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Cara is a program support associate for the Special Interest Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a Strategic Planning Graduate Consultant in Seattle, Washington and as a Project Coordinator for The Municipality of Tetovo and a volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Tetovo, Macedonia. Cara has her M.P.A. from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Philosophy from the University of Utah.
Beth Bray is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Beth served as the Director of Charter Schools under Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and was responsible for the oversight of 24 public charter schools. Beth began her career in public policy as a researcher and lobbyist for a statewide childrens' service agency, before joining the staff of former Mayor Bart Peterson. She is based in Indianapolis, Indiana and focuses on investments within the Great Lakes Region. Beth received a B.S. from Ball State University and a M.S. from Indiana University.
As director of the Home Region Program, Rob Brothers is responsible for work with grantees focused on statewide K-12 education in Arkansas, and those focused on quality of life initiatives in Northwest Arkansas and the delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi. Rob previously spent 37 years as a commercial banker in Arkansas and Missouri, including a term as the chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association. He holds a B.S.B.A. in economics and finance from Missouri Southern State University.
A senior program officer for the Environment Program, Peter Bryant manages grant portfolios in international geographies (Indonesia, Gulf of California, and the Eastern Tropical Pacific) as part of the marine conservation initiative. Peter has more than 14 years experience in freshwater and marine conservation and previously managed programs on river conservation and marine fisheries at several organizations, including The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. Early in his career, Peter focused on corporate partnerships for conservation and communications and marketing. Peter received his undergraduate degree in economics and has a master’s in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
As focus area coordinator/grants manager for the K-12 Education Program, Sarah Burns manages the operational aspects of its public charter school grant-making process and education reform activities. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was Development Director for the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras. Sarah holds a B.S. in Merchandising and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Education Policy from the University of Kentucky.
Karis is the program coordinator/grants manager for the Home Region Program. She has a B.S. in Journalism and a Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Leadership and Ethis from John Brown University. Concurrent wtih her master's program, Karis also served as a project coordinator at the Soderquist Center as a graduate fellowship recipient.
Michael is an associate research officer for the Evaluation Unit. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was a research associate for the Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Harding University.
As office administrator and program assistant, Brenda Dean supports the Foundation’s central office staff and assists with grant administration. Prior to joining the foundation, Brenda spent 20 years at Arvest Bank in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Kama is a program officer in the marine initiative. Kama's projects will focus on the Gulf of California strategy and grant portfolio. Kama began working in Northwest Mexico in 2001 and most recently worked with The Ocean Foundation to oversee their programmatic work, managing TOF's Fiscal Sponsorship Fund program. Kama holds a B.A. in Government and Latin American studies with Honors from New Mexico State University and a Masters of Pacific and International Affairs (MPIA) from the University of California, San Diego.
Jared Faciszewski is a program officer on the Special Interest team. He works with family members on specific individually directed programs and grants. Prior to joining the foundation, Jared worked in merchandising for Wal-Mart’s bakery division. He has an economics degree from The Colorado College and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Damon Gardenhire is a senior program officer, focusing on special initiative grant making in Oklahoma. With two decades of experience in communications and public policy, his reporting has been widely published and earned him several awards for journalism. Before joining the foundation, Gardenhire served as communications and policy director at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Damon holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a McMahon Scholar.
Tina is responsible for program support of grants administration for all aspects of the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Tina was curriculum assistant for the Bentonville Public School District for twelve years.
Barry Gold is director of the Foundation’s Environment Program. He leads the Foundation’s freshwater and marine initiatives to find lasting solutions that benefit the environment and strengthen local economies. Before joining the Foundation, Barry served as director of Marine Conservation at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where he led efforts to keep the world’s oceans healthy through approaches that take both environmental and community needs into account. This included work to shift fisheries management to an incentive-based system to help end overfishing, rebuild depleted stocks and sustain fishing communities, as well as efforts to advance comprehensive approaches to ocean planning.
Prior to joining Moore, Barry managed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s work on ecosystem-based management and linking science to policy. Before Packard, he was chief of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center where he led an effort to restore the Colorado River ecosystem throughout the Grand Canyon. Barry has held senior positions with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as board president for the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, the leading affinity group for environmental foundations, and was vice-chair of the California Ocean Science Trust Board. Barry received a B.S. from the University of Miami, an M.S. from the University of Connecticut, an M.A. from George Washington University and a D.Sc. from Washington University in St. Louis.
Ryan Hale is a program officer for the Home Region Program and is responsible for the Northwest Arkansas and Delta Region initiatives. He previously served as director of business development for the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics at John Brown University and as a vice president of commercial lending at Arvest Bank in Rogers, Arkansas. Ryan was drafted by the NFL’s New York Giants and spent two seasons with the team, including their 2000 NFC championship season and Super Bowl XXXV appearance. He holds a B.S. in education from the University of Arkansas where he was a captain of the Razorback football team.
Becca is a program officer for the Special Interest Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Becca was a project specialist for the National Children’s Study. She is a graduate of Hendrix College with a B.A. in Spanish and received her M.P.A. from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
As operations manager, Liz Heimbach is responsible for the internal organization processes and infrastructure for the foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, she spent 28 years with Arvest Bank as a commercial lender and most recently as a loan support manager. Liz received her B.S.B.A. from the University of Arkansas with a focus on data processing and quantitative analysis.
As Evaluation Unit director, Marc Holley is responsible for ensuring that the Foundation staff and board of directors are provided with accurate, timely research and analysis to support strategic decision-making. He was previously a researcher at the University of Arkansas in the Office for Education Policy. In addition to publishing peer-reviewed research, conducting program evaluations, and authoring a book on teacher quality, he has worked with the What Works Clearinghouse. He was also a teacher, school administrator, and Peace Corps volunteer. Marc holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Arkansas, a M.Ed. from the University of Georgia, and a B.A. from Harvard University.
In her role as a program officer for the Environment Program, Teresa manages grants related to the marketplace for sustainable seafood. Before joining the foundation, Teresa was the seafood project manager for the Corporate Partnerships Program at Environmental Defense Fund, where she with leading seafood buyers to develop and implement sustainable seafood purchasing policies. During her tenure at EDF, she played an instrumental role in merging the organization's seafood buyer work and its extensive experience in the fishery policy arena. Prior to joining Environmental Defense Fund, she co-founded FishWise and served as its director of science.
Kathy is a program support associate for the Environment Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was an executive assistant to the president of Magnetar Capital, LLC and also worked for Kohler Interiors Group as an executive assistant to the president. Kathy graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts and Art History from Northeastern Illinois University.
Shanna is an accounting/financial analyst for the Foundation. Previously, she was an accountant for Mattax Neu Prater Eye Center in Springfield, MO. Shanna has a bachelor's degree in Accounting from Missouri State University.
Jamie Jutila is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. Jamie previously worked on education and nonprofit-related issues for U.S. Senator Max Baucus in Bozeman, Montana. She received a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.P.A. at University of Colorado – Denver.
As a program support associate, Melissa Kaminski is responsible for program support of grants administration for all aspects of the Environment Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a middle school writing teacher in Washington, D.C., and as a general education teacher in Philadelphia. Melissa has a B.S. degree in elementary education from the University of Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Sabrina Skinner Lehmann is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. She previously worked at The Broad Foundation, and the California Charter Schools Association, and the New York City Department of Education. She has also held roles in advocacy, research and politics. Her undergraduate studies were at The Colorado College, and she earned her MBA from The Wharton School and M.A. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Cathy Nehf Lund is a senior program officer for the Foundation’s Special Interest Program. Prior to re-joining the Foundation in 2013, Cathy was vice president at Project Lead the Way, the leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S. Between 1997 and 2011, Cathy was senior program officer on the Foundation’s K-12 Education team. She has also worked at the Challenge Foundation and the Hudson Institute, and in the insurance and risk management industry.
Bruno V. Manno is senior advisor for the K-12 Education Program. Before joining the Foundation, he was senior program associate for education with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and before that senior fellow in the Education Policy Studies Program at the Hudson Institute. From 1986 to 1993, he worked in the United States Department of Education, holding several senior positions, including assistant secretary for policy and planning. He received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Dayton, a Ph.D. from Boston College, and is the co-author or author of numerous books and articles on K-12 education policy and reform.
Anna is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. She currently works with grantees in the eastern region of the U.S. Prior to joining the Foundation, Anna was Vice President, External Affairs for The Center for Education Reform, and Legislative Director for the American Federation for Children. Most recently, Anna served as Chief Operating Officer for ConnCAN. She has an extensive background in shaping education policy and developing advocacy campaigns. She received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut and M.A. in Public Policy from American University.
Moira Mcdonald, senior program officer for Environment Program, joined the Foundation in 2009 and manages the Mississippi River watershed grant portfolio as part of the freshwater conservation initiative. Moira has more than 18 years experience in wetlands and freshwater conservation and previously managed Mississippi River and Great Lakes programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Moira received her undergraduate degree in environmental science and Russian studies from Brown University and has a master’s and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota.
As program coordinator/grants manager for the Foundation’s Environment Program, Cheryl McFarland manages the operational aspects of its grant-making process for its marine and freshwater conservation initiatives. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for the Sallie Mae Fund where she helped support programs and initiatives that helped open doors to higher education for America’s students. Cheryl has a B.S. degree in accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.
As a senior research officer with the Walton Family Foundation, Karen provides analysis and evaluation of the Home Region Program's grants and strategies. Karen previously worked for the City of Fayetteville as Director of Strategic Planning and Internal Consulting, evaluating myriad programs, policies and processes. She has also worked in public sector consulting and served as a Teach for America corps member in Harlem. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University.
As communications director, Daphne oversees all internal and external communications for the Foundation including institutional Foundation communications as well as working with the K-12 Education and Environment Program teams to support and advance Foundation grant-making strategies. Prior to joining the Foundation, Daphne spent 13 years working in the corporate affairs division of Walmart holding positions in public affairs, government relations and corporate communications. Before Walmart, she spent five years as a newspaper reporter. Daphne holds a B.A. in English and mass communications from Ouachita Baptist University.
Magdalena is a special interest program consultant for Ben and LucyAna and is located in Chile. She has over 13 years of experience leading research, evaluations and providing public policy advice in the areas of education, poverty, local development and strategic planning. Magdalena has a degree in psychology with a specialization in education from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
Kelsey provides program support of grants in the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a grant writer at the American Indian College Fund. Kelsey is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Political Science and will begin her M.P.A. at the University of Colorado, Denver, in the fall of 2013.
Leah Myers is the Foundation’s senior staff accountant. Before joining the Foundation, Leah spent three years with Cooper Communities, Inc., where she was the staff accountant for their timeshare division. Leah received her B.B.A. degree in accounting from Harding University.
Susan is a program support associate for the Special Interest team. Prior to joining the Foundation, Susan was a School Assistant at Providence Classical Christian Academy and was Site Director at Loving Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center. Susan attended Stephen F. Austin State University.
Sandy Nickerson serves as a senior program officer for the Foundation’s Special Interest Program. Prior to this role, she was a program officer for the Home Region Program with responsibility for the Northwest Arkansas and Delta region initiatives. Before joining the Foundation, Sandy worked at the Walton Arts Center. She holds a B.S. from John Brown University.
Caleb Offley is a deputy director for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as project manager for the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K–12 Education at Stanford University. Caleb has worked in the charter school sector as a board member and school founder and has advised in both advocacy and school development for independent and national charter organizations. He began his career in education as a public high school teacher in California.
As manager of grants administration to the Walton Family Foundation, Donna Osborn is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day management of grants administration including direct supervision of the program support team located in the Bentonville, Arkansas, office. Prior to joining the Foundation she attended Cannon Financial Institute’s Cannon Trust School at the University of Notre Dame and served as a Trust Officer at First National Bank of Springdale.
Emma is a program officer for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Emma was interim project director for The New Teacher Project and prior to that served as acting principal, assistant principal and as a sixth grade teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Her career in education began as Teach For America corps member in New York and California. Emma has a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Harvard, a masters in General Childhood Education from the Bank Street College of Education in New York and has her education leadership doctorate (EdLD) from Harvard University.
Buddy D. Philpot is the Foundation’s executive director overseeing all foundation operations, grant making, research and evaluation, and communications. Prior to joining the Foundation, Buddy spent more than 20 years in community banking, joining the Walton family owned Arvest Bank Group in 1987. He served for more than 10 years as president and CEO of the Springdale, Arkansas, Arvest bank. He joined The Walton Family Foundation as executive director in 2001. Buddy holds banking degrees from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.
Janet serves as the Foundation's human resource/training manager. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked in executive administration for Arvest Bank in Rogers, Ark., and as a litigation paralegal for the Hudson & Mullies, LLC law firm in Fort Scott, Kansas. Janet attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.
As the director of information technology for the Foundation, P.D. Rakestraw provides direction and support for all the foundation's technology needs. He has been working in the computer and telecommunications field for more than twenty years. During this time, he has held a number of leadership and technology related positions including network and telecommunications manager, network administrator, consultant and senior level programmer. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Arkansas with a B.S. degree in computer science.
Cheri Recchia is deputy director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Evaluation Unit. Based in the Foundation’s Washington, D.C., office, Cheri focuses on evaluation of the Environment Program, and the environmental programs of the Home Region. Cheri has worked in marine conservation in developed and developing countries around the world, especially the science, policy, and management of marine protected areas (MPAs) and conservation of threatened species. Recently, she led the development of an innovative, cost-effective approach to evaluating the performance of MPAs in California. Cheri holds a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Josh Senty works as a computer support technician and supports the foundation in all their technology needs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Josh spent seven years at Enformix Technology Services as head of the tech support department. Josh also worked at R3 Media Group providing hands-on training with electronics to customers and associates at Walmart stores across the country. Josh attended University of Phoenix.
Angela is a Home Region program consultant focusing on the Delta Region of Arkansas and Mississippi. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a policy advisor consultant for the Delta Regional Authority and held several director roles at Teach For America. Angela holds a B.A. in business administration from Tennessee State University and an MBA from Arkansas State University.
Peter Skidmore is a program officer focusing on the Colorado River Basin. Previously, Peter was the freshwater program director for The Nature Conservancy and most recently he was the principal of Skidmore Restoration Consulting, LLC. Peter has a Bachelor of Geology degree from Macalester College and a Master’s in Earth Science and Geography from Montana State University.
As the director of accounting and operations, Bob Smith provides accounting and finance support as well as the operational support required to assist the program teams with execution of the foundation’s strategic plans and initiatives. Prior to joining the Foundation, Bob served as CFO and director of accounting of the automotive division of a family-owned company and worked in both the Little Rock and St. Louis offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is a CPA and holds a BSBA from Missouri State University.
As senior program officer for the Home Region Program, Kathy Smith is responsible for the Arkansas K-12 education initiative that promote systemic reform, using the principles of accountability, transparency, choice, and incentives. She has spent more than 30 years in public education in Oklahoma and Arkansas, first as a high school English teacher and eventually moving to district secondary curriculum director. Kathy holds a bachelor’s in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a master’s in educational administration from the University of Arkansas.
Morgan Snyder, program officer for the Environment Program, is based in the Washington, D.C., office and works on both the Colorado and Mississippi River programs as part of the freshwater conservation initiative. Prior to joining the Foundation, Morgan worked on restoring in-stream flows to tributaries of the Columbia River through voluntary water transactions at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He received an undergraduate degree in environmental conservation and restoration from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree from Uppsala University’s Peace and Conflict department with a focus on international freshwater policy.
Ana is a program support associate for the grants administration team. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for 8.5 years as the clinical records assistant for Circle of Life Hospice. Previously, she was a marketing office manager/promotional specialist for Creative Marketing Services and a marketing account manager/client services for Retailtainment, Inc.
Marc Sternberg is director of the Foundation’s K-12 Education Program. He leads the Foundation’s initiatives to improve K-12 education for all of our nation’s children by empowering parents with quality options. Before joining the Foundation, Marc served as the senior deputy chancellor at the New York City Department of Education, where he directed the citywide portfolio planning efforts including new school development and placement, the school phase-out process, and the enrollment process for students Pre-K-12. He also served as senior advisor to the chancellor and the mayor’s office on K-12 policy and strategy.
Prior to his service as deputy chancellor, Marc served as founder and principal of the Bronx Lab School, an unscreened high school that quadrupled the graduation rate of Evander Childs High School, the school Bronx Lab replaced in 2004. After earning a B.A. from Princeton University in 1995, Marc served as a Teach For America corps member in the South Bronx. He then earned a joint MBA and Masters in Education from Harvard University.
Kevin Thornton is senior communications officer, managing institutional and internal communications including the Foundation’s website. He also provides communications support to the Home Region Program staff on external communications and media relations. He previously held several positions in corporate communications at Walmart, including media spokesperson and managing digital communications. He is also an experienced radio and television broadcaster. Kevin holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Kristin is a program officer for the Foundation's Environment Program. Her area of focus is the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a program officer for the blue moon fund and an energy consultant for MACED. Kristin has a Master's of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia.
Jenny Tripp provides grant administration support for the Foundation’s Environment Program as well as general support for the Evaluation Unit. Jenny previously spent seven years with the Walmart Foundation where she was program manager of education initiatives. Jenny received her A.S. degree from Northwest Arkansas Community College.
Emily is a program support associate for the K-12 Education Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Emily was a corps members and the operation’s coordinator for City Year, Milwaukee. She holds a B.S. in psychology & ethnic and racial studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Sherman Whites, program officer for the K-12 Education Program, joined the Foundation after working in New Orleans as part of the Broad Foundation’s Residency in Urban Education. Previously, he worked as an operations team leader for Target Corporation, and as an adjunct instructor at North Carolina Central University. Sherman earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Florida A&M University, and a M.B.A. from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.
Naccaman Williams is director of the Foundation’s Special Interest Program, which includes grants directed by individual members of the Walton family. A former junior and senior high school mathematics teacher, Naccaman has served in several higher education roles, including director of the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School at the University of Florida, and assistant dean and director of minority education services in the College of Education at the University of Arkansas. He served seven years on the Arkansas State Board of Education, including two years as chairman. He also served a four-year term on the Southern Regional Education Board. Naccaman holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University and a doctorate in education administration from the University of Arkansas.
Jessica Young is a communications officer for the Foundation working on both internal and external communications. She previously held public relations and marketing positions with Circle of Life Hospice and the Jones Center for Families, both in Springdale, Arkansas, and in communications and membership for the Fayetteville (AR) Chamber of Commerce. Jessica is a graduate of the University of Arkansas.