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Walton Family Foundation Announces Social Impact Leader as Home Region Program Director

August 18, 2021
Robert Burns will lead foundation’s philanthropic efforts in Northwest Arkansas and the Delta

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Aug. 18, 2021 – The Walton Family Foundation today announced community relations and social innovation expert Robert Burns as the director of the Home Region Program. In the role, Burns will oversee the program’s 2025 Strategy, which focuses on building a vibrant, inclusive Northwest Arkansas and supporting economic and community development in the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.

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Luis Gonzalez

“Over the next five years, the Walton Family Foundation will work steadily and boldly toward long-term change that unlocks opportunity for every person in Northwest Arkansas and the Delta,” said Tom Walton, Home Region Program chair. “Robert’s background as a proven leader in community relations, cross-sector collaboration and social impact will provide a new perspective that encourages our partners and us to embrace innovative, community-driven solutions to the unique needs of these regions.”

Burns brings more than 25 years of experience in workforce housing, philanthropy, community development and governmental affairs to the foundation. Most recently, he led efforts to promote financial inclusion and economic empowerment as senior vice president of Citi. Throughout his career, Burns partnered with nonprofit and public agencies to build more inclusive cities; managed a Community Development Financial Institution; directed nonprofit solutions for an affordable housing organization and worked in local government in four states, including Kansas and Missouri. He also has experience leading community development efforts supporting nonprofits in Arkansas and the Delta. Burns holds a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s in political science from Appalachian State University.

“Building diverse, inclusive and equitable communities requires commitment, innovation and collaboration,” said Burns. “I look forward to working with, and learning from, local partners to help ensure everyone in Northwest Arkansas and the Delta has access to all the opportunities these communities have to offer.”

Burns will relocate to Northwest Arkansas later this year.

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.