News and analysis
August 18, 2015

Head of Walton Family Foundation to Step Down


During Buddy Philpot's 15-year tenure as executive director, the fund's grant making went from $40 million to $374 million.

Buddy Philpot will step down as executive director of the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropy started by Sam Walton, the Walmart founder, and his wife, Helen.

Mr. Philpot has served in that post for 15 years. In a letter, board members and family heirs Alice, Jim, and Rob Walton said Mr. Philpot "has committed to stay on at the foundation as long as necessary to help ensure a smooth transition as we conduct a national search for a new executive director."

Under Mr. Philpot’s watch, the foundation grew from making about $40 million in grants annually to $374 million in 2014. This year, it expects to make about $400 million in grants to improve schools, to mitigate environmental damage, and to raise the quality of life in the Arkansas Ozarks and Mississippi Delta region.

The foundation is a leader in the charter-school movement and has pursued environmental strategies that seek to find common ground among conservation and business interests.

The organization has built more than 300 miles of trails in its Northwest Arkansas backyard and has helped draw more than 2 million visitors to the area to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was started with an $800 million endowment from the Walton family.

Mr. Philpot is a longtime business associate of the Walton family, having previously served as president of Arvest Bank, which is led by Jim Walton. He plans to continue working at Walton Enterprises, a holding company, after he leaves the foundation.

The foundation has assets of about $2.5 billion, ranking it 24th in the nation, according data compiled by The Chronicle.

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