The Walton Family Foundation (WFF) announced Monday (Sept. 16) the hiring of Caryl M. Stern as the foundation’s new executive director. She will begin the job in January 2020 and be based in Bentonville. WFF has about 100 employees and additional offices in Denver, Jersey City, N.J. and Washington, D.C.
Stern is filling the role previously held by Kyle Peterson, who announced his intention this past January to leave the organization this summer. Peterson was hired in June 2016 to replace Buddy Philpot.
The Bentonville-based foundation was created in 1987 and is led by the family of Walmart Inc. founders Sam and Helen Walton. Carrie Walton Penner, who is their granddaughter, is the board chair.
“Caryl’s incredible record of leadership and service makes her the perfect choice for the Walton Family Foundation,” Penner said in a statement. “We are excited to have her join us in making a difference for those we serve.”
Stern has more than 30 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector as a child advocate and civil rights activist. She has been president and CEO of UNICEF USA for the past 12 years. According to the organization, which is headquartered downtown New York City, Stern has helped double its fundraising intake to $600 million.
“It is an honor to become a part of the critical work of the Walton Family Foundation,” Stern said in a statement. “For decades, the foundation has focused on addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time. Guided by family leadership combined with staff expertise and a committed grantee network, the Walton Family Foundation is creating meaningful change in individual lives and in communities.”
In addition to other roles at UNICEF USA, Stern served as chief operating officer and senior associate national director for the Anti-Defamation League. She is the author of “I Believe in Zero,” a book of stories from her travels that lead to powerful and sometimes counter-intuitive lessons about life.
“Caryl’s experience in education, the impacts of environmental issues, and economic development gives her keen insight into the Walton Family Foundation’s strategic programs and vision,” Penner said. “With a track record of working across sectors, including government, business and philanthropy, as well as leading complex organizations dealing with complicated issues, she is an ideal choice as the foundation looks to solutions from all over to address some of society’s most daunting challenges.”
According to its most recent annual report issued in June 2018, the foundation has given more $6.2 billion in grants over the past 30 years to 6,297 recipients.
WFF grants totaled more than $595 million in 2018.