Program Director, Home Region
The Walton Family Foundation is seeking a skilled, highly motivated leader to join the Foundation as the next Program Director, Home Region. The Program Director will have the ability to shape the future of this growing region with values of inclusion and community-driven change at the forefront, as articulated in the 2025 Strategy.
A key aspect of the Program Director’s role will be to work with family members to implement the Home Region’s mission, vision, strategy and values with the goal of maximizing measurable impact.
Reporting to the Executive Director of WFF, the Program Director will lead and manage a strong team overseeing a diverse portfolio of municipal and non-profit grantees.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation (“WFF”) is at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of its founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities.
The Foundation works in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in its home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. The foundation awarded more than $525 million in grants in 2019.
With headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and offices in Washington, D.C., Jersey City, New Jersey, and Denver, Colorado, and over 100 talented and dedicated staff, WFF is committed to long-term solutions and constant evaluation and improvement.
The year 2021 marked the beginning of a new five-year cycle for WFF. With an enduring commitment to continual improvement, the Foundation recently completed its 2025 Strategy, prioritizing three unifying objectives across all program areas:
- Champion Community Change. The Foundation is committed to ensuring its work not only reflects but is guided by the communities where it works. This means committing resources to help grantees effectively and sustainably advance community-developed solutions that deliver lasting progress and drive meaningful change.
- Prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. WFF will strive to continually and intentionally engage and elevate organizations from a diverse range of backgrounds, ensure that its approach is clear, fair and consistent for every grantee, and encourage partners to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations.
- Collaborate with Partners. With a commitment to developing innovative approaches and building new partnerships that bring people, resources and ideas together, WFF will endeavor to be a force multiplier by engaging with and beyond its existing network to facilitate additional partnerships to further accelerate the impact of its grantees’ work.
For big changes to take place and endure, the work to get there must be innovative, inclusive, and guided by the people and communities closest to the increasingly complex challenges that WFF is trying to tackle.
The Home Region
The purpose of the Home Region program is to honor the Walton Family’s shared values and commitment to communities in the Home Region by creating opportunity and enhancing quality of life for all.
The Home Region stretches across Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta and the annual grant budget is in excess of $50 million.
In Northwest Arkansas, the Home Region’s work is organized around three strategic initiatives:
Advance Economic and Cultural Vibrancy
Develop a diverse and innovative regional economy, where small businesses and startups can flourish, to world-class cultural opportunities, Northwest Arkansas can continue to build on its strong reputation as a thriving, nationally recognized region. Guided by WFF’s Strategy 2025, the Foundation’s work will expand efforts to ensure the region’s abundant opportunities are accessible to all.
Foster Inclusive Growth & A Sense of Belonging
Inclusive growth means everyone who calls Northwest Arkansas home benefits from the region’s successes and is welcome to fully participate in all the area has to offer. The Foundation intends to work closely with education nonprofits, school districts and other community partners to ensure that every student in Northwest Arkansas is prepared for college and high-quality jobs and that residents can upskill or reskill to enter high potential fields. The Walton Family Foundation’s work with grantees focused on housing and transportation affordability will ensure residents can easily access the region’s employment centers, services and amenities. Additionally, the Home Region will support inclusive shared spaces in the region and will continue to supervise the Design Excellence program. This work will require partnerships with a broad spectrum of community organizations to drive an intentional and sustained effort that builds meaningful connections across the region’s diverse communities, inspiring a genuine and shared sense of belonging.
Support Community Leadership & Capacity Building
Engaging and elevating the voices of a diverse array of local leaders who share a deep commitment to their community can help ensure the long-term vitality and vibrancy of Northwest Arkansas. The Foundation will support training, networking and organizations working most closely with the community.
Specific duties include the following:
- Provide strategic thought leadership for the program: The Program Director is expected to have an understanding of overall local and national trends that impact the direction of the program, to be able to articulate the relationships between the program’s work and broader trends, and to identify tactical, strategic, and innovative approaches that ensure the program reaches its goals.
- Work closely with family members to ensure the Home Region program achieves their vision and its goals: The Home Region is governed by the Home Region committee, a subset of Walton family members with deep ties to the region. The Program Director manages Home Region Committee meetings and works closely with the committee chair to set agendas and convey important updates to stakeholders. In addition, the Director facilitates broader strategy conversations with stakeholders to ensure the program mission and strategy align with the aspirations of the Walton family.
- Champion, refine and implement the Home Region’s 2025 Strategic Plan: The Director serves as the public face and spokesperson for the program within the Home Region communities as well as at regional / national convenings and conferences. The Director is the lead advocate for the goals of the plan both internally and externally.
- Manage and build relationships with community leaders, other funders, grantees, and thought leaders. This role will include direct outreach and broad networking with a diverse group of stakeholders both nationally, statewide and within the Home Region communities. The Director also participates in grantee site visits and learning opportunities. In addition, this position will continue to build new relationships with a network of partners in order to leverage the program’s grant dollars.
- Lead and support a high-performing, diverse team. The success of the Foundation’s Home Region strategy is built on a strong team culture that values partnership and diversity in order to achieve common goals. The nature of the Home Region work requires a diverse set of disciplines and skillsets. Team members provide support as well as honest and respectful feedback to one another. All team members are held to high performance expectations that include a mindset of personal and professional development.
- Serve as a member of the Leadership Team for the overall Foundation.
- Other projects and assignments. These may be requested by the Foundation’s board, Home Region Committee, or Executive Director.
The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:
A Trusted Advisor
The ideal candidate is motivated by the opportunity to serve as a partner to the family as they implement a new strategy for the Home Region. The Program Director is energized by the prospect of facilitating key family conversations and as such, should possess a high level of emotional intelligence. The Program Director’s leadership style is that of humility, patience, and keen listening skills. This leader brings a deep sense of appreciation for being entrusted with a role of fundamental impact for Northwest Arkansas. The Program Director brings unquestioned integrity, ethics, discretion and values. This leader is deeply proficient in building relationships grounded in trust and respect.
A Strong Relationship Builder and Ambassador
The Program Director brings a strong ability to maintain and advance current relationships with key partners and grantees throughout the region while simultaneously developing new partnerships. This leader has an inspirational presence, with the ability to represent WFF’s Home Region program in Northwest Arkansas, regionally, and nationally. The Director should be confident speaking publicly about the family’s vision for the region and will bring experience serving as an ambassador and spokesperson.
The Program Director is an inclusive, thoughtful leader, with a natural ability to engage with partners throughout the communities of Northwest Arkansas in a meaningful way. This Director is a dynamic leader, comfortable in a variety of settings with the ability to be viewed as a trusted partner in local communities. This leader is a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, and these values should be especially clear in how they build relationships externally with grantees and partners.
A Passion for the Region
The Program Director brings an understanding of and connection to the Home Region geographies (Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta) and WFF grantees. This leader has a strong understanding of community-driven change and economic growth of similar regions and should have the cultural competency to facilitate inclusive decision-making processes. The Director is well-versed in community growth and economic development and should have a perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing Northwest Arkansas. The Program Director is committed to building a strong sense of shared purpose throughout WFF’s Home Region team and will lead by example.
An Innovative & Visionary Leader
With an unwavering commitment to maximizing impact, the Program Director is always looking for innovative and creative strategies to iterate and improve. A lifelong learner, the Program Director brings a natural inclination to think ahead and constantly strategize about the growth and vibrancy of Northwest Arkansas. While focused on Strategy 2025, this leader will offer a creative approach to potential solutions, with an ability to push the envelope and take measured risks in a thoughtful way. This leader has an open mind, and collaborative approach with grantees and other partners, with a focused goal of advancing the region. The Program Director is a visionary who plans for the future with imagination and wisdom.
Fit with the family members and the ability to lead and influence constituents in a complex environment are critical aspects of this hire. This leader should possess strong leadership and operational skills, and will bring experience leading and developing a team and program.
This leader could come from a variety of backgrounds. An interdisciplinary career with chapters in philanthropy as well as the nonprofit sector and the private sector would be attractive. Ideally, this leader will be have experience overseeing major grantmaking initiatives.
A direct connection to Northwest Arkansas would be considered a plus but is not a requirement.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Alison P. Ranney, Kara Teising, Cheryl Stevens and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in the role please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
The Walton Family Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to building and maintaining a culturally diverse workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment of any kind. We encourage women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status, or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate.