Special Initiatives Staff
Naccaman Williams is director of the foundation’s special initiatives, 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.
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.
Becca provides program support of grants in the special initiatives area. 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 a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Cathy Nehf Lund is a senior program officer focusing on the foundation’s special initiatives, which includes grants directed by individual members of the Walton family. 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 Reform team. She has also worked at the Challenge Foundation and the Hudson Institute, and in the insurance and risk management industry.
Sandy Nickerson serves as the administrative and program officer for the foundation’s special initiatives. Prior to this role, she was a program officer for the Home Region Focus Area with responsibility for the northwest Arkansas and delta region initiatives. Sandy holds a B.S. from John Brown University.