Heartland Forward taps former Walmart director to lead annual summit

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,459 views 

Bentonville think-and-do tank Heartland Forward has hired former Walmart Inc. director Angie Cooper as the executive director of its annual event, the Heartland Summit.

Cooper has worked in policy and international and domestic public affairs for Walmart for the past 16 years, most recently as senior director of global public policy.

“Our mission to change the narrative about the middle of the United States can only be achieved by coming together to address the unique challenges and opportunities this region faces,” Olivia Walton, Heartland Summit co-founder, said in a statement. “Angie’s deep-rooted understanding of those issues and experience in producing strategic gatherings during her career at Walmart will bring a vital perspective to the Heartland Summit team.”

The Heartland Summit, according to its website, showcases innovation between the coasts, sparks honest conversations about the challenges of the region, ignites systems for sustained economic growth and inspires problem-solving in the heart of the country.

The 2020 event is April 22-23.

In addition to organizing Heartland Summit, Cooper will lead the development of other events and convenings for Heartland Forward.

“The prospect of assembling the greatest thinkers and doers of our time, while helping to enact positive change for the Heartland, is a phenomenal undertaking and one that is truly close to my heart, having spent my formative years here,” Cooper said in a statement. “I’m honored at the opportunity to take on this role and to work with this constructive force for the greater good.”

Cooper has worked in various departments within Walmart including: merchandising, public affairs, state and local government relations, and the Walmart Foundation. Cooper returned to Northwest Arkansas after working in California, where she directed Walmart’s regulatory efforts and growth opportunities in Northern California, as well as oversaw government relations efforts in Alaska and Hawaii.

Cooper recently served as Walmart’s chair of the Women’s Resource Council (WRC). The WRC is a group of women and men who cultivate an inclusive environment and act as a forum to connect, develop, and advocate for their members.  Cooper also serves on the board for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). Angie is a native of Oklahoma and a graduate of Oklahoma State University.

Heartland Forward is the first U.S. think tank focused exclusively on the economic situation of the Heartland region. It is spearheaded by members of the Walton family and led by former Walton Fellow and Milken Institute Chief Research Officer Ross DeVol.