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Senior Food Systems Officer and Director for Market Center of the Ozarks

The Northwest Arkansas Food Systems initiative of the Walton Family Foundation and Walton Personal Philanthropy Group is seeking a proactive, detail-oriented, and execution-focused individual to serve as a Senior Food Systems Officer and Market Center of the Ozarks Director. This new role, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, would support a vision to position the region as a national model for local food and regenerative agriculture, support local economies, and to provide healthier food access for all. In simplest terms, the initiative seeks to create increased access to healthy local food on local tables, with the work divided among two main objectives:

  • Growing Farmers: Increase production of local produce through support to Northwest Arkansas (NWA) farmers. Goals aim to increase land access, provide access to capital for small-scale farmers, provide a spectrum of educational opportunities from new to experienced farmers, and increase the use of regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Growing Markets: Increase locally grown produce in local markets through the creation of a new food hub and a state-of-the-art facility (Market Center of the Ozarks, or MCO). The MCO will provide value-added processing capabilities and resources to bourgeoning food entrepreneurs to foster additional pathways for local food into local wholesale markets.

About the Position

The Senior Food Systems Officer and MCO Director is a new position that has four key functions:

  • Manage the strategic direction of the charitable initiative
  • Support and oversee a portfolio of grantee and consulting partners
  • Serve as Director of the Market Center of the Ozarks
  • Manage internal and external stakeholder engagement (including the initiative’s governance)


  • Manage the strategic direction of the initiative
    • Leverage internal expertise and existing parameters of the initiative to co-lead vision with a consulting partner.
    • On an annual basis, develop and manage workplans and budgets.
    • Leverage internal expertise to develop frameworks to assess grantees’ work and measure progress toward the initiative’s main objectives.
    • Lead or oversee modeling and analysis of various approaches to advance the initiative’s main objectives.
    • Ensure grants and any potential property acquisitions are consistent with values and principles of the initiative.
    • Manage an existing Advisory Committee of external experts, in partnership with the initiative’s consultant.
  • Support and oversee a portfolio of grantee and consulting partners
    • Assess potential grantees for alignment with the initiative’s priorities and principles.
    • Manage the grant and contract proposal process and vetting.
    • Coordinate with internal partners to execute grants and contracts.
    • Manage consultants and sub-contractors as needed.
    • Manage and support grantee progress throughout the grant period.
    • Manage communications and collaborations with key partners (e.g., municipalities, local non-profits).
    • Ensure compliance with all applicable charitable policies and regulations. Establish and manage processes and protocols that protect the charitable nature of the work.
  • Serve as Director of the Market Center of the Ozarks (MCO)
    • Oversee MCO’s programs and operations
    • Through 2024, work with internal partners on the design and construction of the forthcoming MCO and function as an owner’s rep on the project.
    • Support the process of selecting grantees to operate certain functions of the MCO and then develop memos of understanding once selected.
    • Ensure that a long-term staffing plan is in place for the MCO.
    • Oversee grantees in-residence.
    • Develop and convene a network of food systems external stakeholders to fully leverage the community assets and resources.
    • Represent the MCO in the community as needed.
    • Primary liaison for internal partners in the Walton Enterprises ecosystem.
    • Partner with the communications team to ensure the initiative is articulated well in the broader community.
  • Manage internal and external stakeholder engagement
    • Primary contact for internal and external stakeholders for the overall NWA Food Systems initiative. This role is “air-traffic control” and the first stop for inquiries from internal and external stakeholders.
    • Track and measure progress and report performance to the initiative’s donors and report, as needed, to the board of the Arkansas Food Systems LLC.
    • Manage monthly email progress reports to the donors. This includes providing updates on the initiative’s progress, marshalling input and feedback, and raising any concerns about the project in a timely, action-oriented manner.
    • Manage annual report and meeting for the funders.
    • Ensure timely and responsive communications to donors as needed.
  • General
    • Ensure a positive experience for key stakeholders through superior client service; be initiative-taking in anticipating needs, effectively communicate progress, and provide accurate, timely resolution of issues when they arise.
    • Effectively manage workflow and processes through clear communication that is simple, effective, and customized.
    • Manage other projects and assignments as requested.

Who we are looking for

Required Qualifications

  • At least 10 years’ professional experience, with at least 5 years’ experience in one or a combination of the following fields: philanthropy, non-profit food access, specialty crops, farming cooperatives, food entrepreneurship, value-added production, and produce aggregation facilities.
  • Experience interfacing with and effectively engaging diverse stakeholder groups (donors, staff, volunteers, farmers, elected officials, agency partners, etc.).
  • Subject matter expertise in food systems, which could include experience in food production, managing a food production or produce aggregation facility, supporting food entrepreneurs, specialty crops or food science.
  • Experience in grantmaking or managing grant funding.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills – ability to communicate with principals as well as business, legal, financial, real estate professionals, and the hard-working community members already engaged in the NWA Food System.
  • Experience managing up to executive-level stakeholders.
  • Ability to build and manage a strategic workplan and budget.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Strong time management and organizational skills including experience managing multiple project flows.
  • Experience acting as a trusted advisor to clients, colleagues, and consultants.
  • Understanding of charitable compliance.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Current knowledge of key food actors and stakeholders in the Ozarks.
  • Developing thoughtful community partnerships.
  • Managing a start-up food facility.

Personal attributes that support your success

  • Ability to act as a trusted advisor to principals and colleagues while demonstrating expertise and integrity
  • You are helpful, a team player, and show respect while collaborating with others
  • You are results oriented and exercise sound judgment in your work
  • A lifelong learner, who is inquisitive and solves problems with bold thinking and innovation
  • A visionary who plans for the future with imagination and wisdom
  • You are dedicated to achieving excellence and work with others to tackle the tasks at hand

All offers of employment are contingent on your successful completion (where permitted by state law) of a confidentiality agreement and background check. In addition, you will need to provide proper identification verifying your eligibility to work in the United States on your first day of work.

Benefits Information*

Compensation Range: $ 165k – 175k

Benefits Information: We offer a comprehensive and generous benefits package that includes medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401(k0 retirement plan and paid time off.

Click here to apply.

You may also apply via our LinkedIn page.

About the Northwest Arkansas Food Systems Initiative

Northwest Arkansas has a rich farming heritage, and for much of the 20th century, its dedicated farmers were known as some of the country’s most prolific growers of fruits and vegetables. While the region has experienced renewed interest in small-scale farming over the past decade, an aging farm workforce and the rising cost of land have made farming inaccessible for too many residents. As consumer demand grows for local produce, and recent crises highlight the essential role farmers play in the food supply chain, the Northwest Arkansas Food Systems Initiative supports local growers from seed to table, connecting new and existing farmers to educational opportunity, land, technical assistance and capital. It also improves farmers’ access to local wholesale and direct-to-consumer markets by supporting programs that provide certification, aggregation, sales and distribution, and processing services. The initiative is set to soar in early 2024 with the opening of the new Market Center of the Ozarks, a new, 45,000-square-foot food hub supporting local farmers and food startups in the heart of downtown Springdale. This facility will provide farmers a space to process their harvest, food entrepreneurs a place to create and innovate and the community a new spot to gather and learn about food. Over time, we believe Northwest Arkansas can serve as a national model for small and mid-size farmers making a good living growing local food in healthy soil.

Click here for more information about the initiative.

About Walton Enterprises

Walton Enterprises supports the personal, philanthropic and business activity for the Walton family. We are a family-led organization, supporting multiple generations of Sam & Helen Walton’s family.

About WPPG

The Walton Personal Philanthropy Group (WPPG) provides services to the family of Sam and Helen Walton to support their individual philanthropic activities. These services for the family and their related entities include program and grant management, strategy consulting and grant administration. WPPG is a part of Walton Enterprises, the family office of the Walton family.

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.

Walton Enterprises 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.