The Walton Family Foundation, the Bentonville-based philanthropic organization started by Wal-Mart Stores founders Sam and Helen Walton, has enlisted the expertise of a think tank “superstar” to join its Walton Fellows Program.
Ross DeVol, former chief research officer at the Milken Institute, has joined the program that enlists subject matter experts to conduct research and develop best practices that support the foundation’s philanthropic efforts.
DeVol will study national economic trends that have transformative impact in the heartland of the nation, according to a news release.
“The gap in economic performance between the two coasts and the central corridor of the country continues to widen,” said Jim Walton of the Walton Family Foundation. “Ross will help identify the tools needed for a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in the American heartland where innovators can implement ideas that change lives and create jobs.”
During his one-year tenure at the foundation, DeVol will “assess opportunities for regional innovation ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for Middle America residents,” according to the release. He will also work with universities and colleges, the business community and philanthropy to “analyze resources that support the startup community and identify workforce and talent gaps.”
“I have spent much of my career researching the changing dynamics of the factors determining regional economic vitality and designing policy recommendations to assist locations,” DeVol said in a statement. “It is an exciting opportunity the Walton Family Foundation has provided to focus my efforts on the American heartland from Northwest Arkansas.”
DeVol is former chief research officer for the Milken Institute, an economic think tank headquartered in California. He was responsible for overseeing research on international, national and comparative regional growth performance; access to capital and its role in economic growth and job creation; and health-related topics. He previously served as senior vice president of Wharton Econometrics, a predecessor firm of IHS Global Insight Inc., director of economic planning at CSX, economist at Chase Econometrics and economic analyst at Union Pacific.
DeVol is an appointee to California Treasurer John Chiang’s Council of Economic Advisors, as well as a former appointee to the California State Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors and past president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for Business Economics.
He has been recognized among the “Superstars of Think Tank Scholars” by International Economy magazine.
A graduate of Ohio University, DeVol holds a master’s degree in economics.