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Walton Family Foundation Is Looking for a “Director of People”

May 12, 2017

The Walton Family Foundation (WFF) has created a new HR (human resources) position: Director of People.

This person is supposed to be trained in HR and have experience in HR “some experience in international HR preferred”), but to go beyond HR and be a “people expert”– whatever that means.

The WFF ad reads like a search for a charismatic HR director who is supposed to successfully foster/extract the maximum amount of Waltonism from among WFF employees.

It seems that “director of people” is an actual position that has been around at least for several years. Workology termed 2013 “the year of the Director of People.”

It seems that several years later, WFF has decided to try this “Director of People” concept, which Workology defines as follows (excerpted):

It’s sometimes our inclination to focus on the avenues of our business that bring immediate and blatant results, but you’ve got to look past the obvious and discover what really makes the wheels of the organization move. There’s no denying that sales are important, customers are a priority and goals must be met, but it’s the people within your company make all of this happen.

Meet the Director or VP of People

The Director of People is unlike any other position currently held in your organization, yet is reminiscent of several positions at the same time. Your Director of People is first and foremost people focused. Much like a human resources professional, they are in tune with the general attitudes and feelings of employees and know that those two factors largely contribute to working styles and actual work produced. Similar to an employee committee Chair, they focus on creating a fun and light work environment, yet are able to see the big picture and understand how small actions make up a larger effort, strategizing as a CEO would. This position even goes a step further to take on some managerial traits as the Director of People also understands what motivates employees and how to encourage the best work possible from your talent force.

WFF wants to “attract, develop, retain and leverage the best talent possible”– even as the Waltons actively work to squash collective bargaining.

I also find it interesting that in its job ad (below), WFF wants 10+ years of leadership experience for this position even as it funds those with zero experience in education to teach (i.e., Teach for America) and to start charter schools.

Below is the full WFF Director of People job description. It uses a lot of words to say that the Waltons seek an HR wonder willing to make his/her home in the Walton backyard of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Director of People Job Description

The Walton Family Foundation is looking to expand its leadership team with someone who is:

  • A professional dedicated to the idea of people being a powerful strategic asset for success;
  • Ready to use his/her extensive people program and HR generalist skills to bring about true change in a learning organization; and
  • Eager to play a part in ambitious social impact.

If you are this person or know of someone who is, we’d like to talk to you.


The Director of People is a new role at the Walton Family Foundation. After significant recent staff growth and office expansions across the country, WFF wants to put in place innovative people initiatives to attract, develop, retain and leverage the best talent possible. The Director of People will be an innovator responsible for developing and implementing an integrated strategic program for all people-related functions for the organization, including recruiting, diversity and inclusion, performance measurement, training and development, recognition and total rewards/compensation. Deep expertise and experience in innovative and strategic human capital program development and implementation as well as change-management skills in support of a learning organization will be imperative.  Experience in the social sector is strongly preferred.

We’re one of the largest private foundations in the United States, and we’re looking for a Director of People to help us maximize the impact we can have with our talented staff.  In this newly-created role, the Director will create, enhance, and implement programs for attracting, developing, and maximizing talent.  At the Walton Family Foundation, investing in people is core to our mission.

We are not seeking a traditional Human Resource Director; we want a People Expert who can lead a change movement with our people programs to truly support and develop our people and accelerate our effectiveness in fulfilling our mission and fostering a culture which encourages and supports continued learning, inclusion and growth.

The Director of People will report to the recently appointed Executive Director and be part of WFF’s Leadership Team. This position will be based in Bentonville, Arkansas.


The foundation has three primary program areas of collective interest to the Walton family: K-12 education, freshwater and ocean conservation and quality of life initiatives in Northwest Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta region. Our grantmaking totaled nearly $375 million in 2015, and we are poised to invest more than $2 billion over the next five years in initiatives across the world. WFF is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, with offices in Washington, D.C.; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Denver, Colorado.


  • Develop and implement an integrated strategic program for all people-related functions in the organization, including onboarding, diversified and international recruiting, performance measurement, staff and leadership development, recognition and total rewards /compensation systems.
  • Lead change with these new people programs with an infectious, optimistic attitude.
  • As part of WFF’s Leadership Team, help plan, manage and evaluate the organization towards fulfillment of our mission and vision for a continuous learning culture.
  • Facilitate a culture grounded in respect, collaboration, learning, results and the mission and values of the foundation.
  • Serve as a thought partner and functional expert to the Leadership Team and program teams regarding human capital issues.
  • Work collaboratively with existing human resource staff (currently shared services with the family office.) Ensure fiscal oversight of the department’s budget.
  • Act as a confidential and neutral sounding board for employee concerns as needed. Manage to positive resolution and liaise with appropriate leadership as necessary.
  • Maintain relationships with legal counsel, insurance brokers and other WFF advisors in support of human resource, employee benefit, international and insurance matters.


There are four equally important and inter-dependent qualification categories. The qualifications are focused on our mission directly and on expanding our learning culture to fulfill, support and sustain the mission through investing in our people.

  1. Knowledge: Proven expertise as an HR generalist with strong learning, organizational development as shown by degrees, certifications, continuous learning and experience.
  2. Entrepreneurial: Demonstrated ability to conceive of and implement projects and initiatives similar in size and scope to WFF’s current objectives.  A doer – can delegate effectively and roll up his/her sleeves and get it done.
  3. Relationships: Leadership talent which consistently brings out the best in the organization at all levels.
  4. Strategic planning, learning and evaluation: Strategic and impact-focused leader, thinker and innovator.

Detail of the qualifications pertaining to each follows.

KNOWLEDGE: Proven expertise as an HR generalist with strong learning, organizational development as shown by degrees, certifications, continuous learning and experience.

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field required; Graduate degree in a related field highly desirable; SPHR or SHRM-SCP certification preferred.
  • 10+ years of experience in a leadership position and 5-7+ years of experience in senior human capital role as well as hands-on, ideally in a high-growth, dynamic and results-oriented environment.
  • Strong knowledge in all areas of human resource management, including recruiting, compensation, benefits, performance management, employee relations, compliance, training, professional and organizational development.
  • Proven understanding of U.S. labor laws and conditions of employment in a global context. Some experience in international HR preferred.
  • Up-to-date on current leadership, learning and OD thought leaders, best practices, and programs; ability to apply and communicate expertise appropriately.

ENTREPRENEURIAL: Demonstrated ability to conceive of and implement projects, communications and initiatives similar in size and scope to WFF’s current objectivesA doer – can delegate effectively and roll up his/her sleeves and get it done.

  • Exceptional project management, influencing and execution skills.
  • Demonstrated success designing and implementing a broad variety of successful human resource initiatives and leading change effectively.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication, presentation and listening skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to implement projects and initiatives similar in size and scope to WFF’s current objectives with a pragmatic and holistic approach.
  • Ability to work independently and deliver results in a fast-paced environment while handling multiple projects.

RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership talent which consistently brings out the best in the organization at all levels

  • History of successful leadership, teamwork, management, innovative thinking and collaboration skills.
  • Effective management skills, building motivated, high-performing teams.
  • Integrity, discretion and ethical behavior in all work situations.
  • High emotional intelligence, responsive, diplomatic, authentic and energetic.
  • Cares about feedback and instilling a culture of constructive feedback.
  • Healthy sense of humor and ability to work with grace under pressure.
  • Accessible, visible and flexible work style that inspires trust and confidence in staff and in management. Able to partner with and influence/inform others.
  • Open to lifelong, continuous personal improvement; aware of self and impact on others; responsive to feedback; is very flexible; adaptable.
  • Enthusiasm for operating amidst complexity and change.
  • Ability to quickly and effectively establish relationships, motivate and engage a diverse range of stakeholders.

STRATEGIC PLANNING, LEARNING, AND EVALUATION: Impact-focused leader, thinker, and innovator

  • Exceptional strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Can think creatively and innovatively, seeing new possibilities.
  • Can assess, design, align, streamline, implement and evaluate People/HR programs and practices that tie directly to the foundation’s mission and culture; and eliminate or minimize those which do not.
  • Ability to come up with elegant approaches which minimize bureaucracy and complexity.
  • Sensitive to multisite and international organization.
  • Values diversity in race, gender, ethnicity and age, as well as thinking, learning styles and culture and incorporates these values into planning, learning and evaluation.
  • Capable of designing practical learning and development programs by expanding upon what is currently working with adapted and original thought leadership.
  • Proven understanding of organizational complexities and able to plan for competing priorities while maintaining flexibility and focus.
  • Master dot collector and connector with systems, people, individual / organizational learning and evaluation.


An appropriate and attractive compensation package will be provided to the successful candidate.  Excellent and comprehensive employee benefits package.

The executive search firm of Battalia Winston has been exclusively retained for this search.  All inquiries, nominations and resumes may be submitted to either:

Ellen Romberg, Search Consultant

Ruth Harris, Senior Associate

The Walton Family Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to building and maintaining a culturally diverse workplace. 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, status of protected veteran, among other things or status as a qualified individual with a disability.

**The person you need is Nanny McPhee…**


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Human capital, human resource management, and eliminate or minimize those which do not, Act as a confidential and neutral sounding board for employee concerns as needed [how that works with the prior phrase, hmmm], Master dot collector, original thought leadership, Deep expertise, etc. . . .

    The ad reads like 100% pure bovine excrement. Why not just come out and say “We need someone who knows how to whip (literally and figuratively) the serfs into compliance with the owners-the Walton heirs desire.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Job is to manage Walmart’s “Talent Force.” Dwane has it right, but Mercedes nailed it with Nanny McPhee.

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