Walton Family Foundation hires DEI program director

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,098 views 

The Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville has its first diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) coordinator.

According to a Tuesday (April 20) news release, Tanya M. Odom will serve as the foundation’s equity and inclusion program director. Odom will instill racial equity and cultural literacy practices into the foundation’s work and broaden knowledge about other aspects of diversity and inclusion. She will serve as a close advisor to Caryl M. Stern, the foundation’s executive director.

In the newly created position, Odom “will provide leadership and knowledge to embed a strong diversity, equity and inclusion focus in the organization’s programmatic work. She will guide the development of an overarching vision — in partnership with the foundation leadership team — to ensure grantmaking decisions, community engagement and strategic objectives reflect a commitment to DEI.”

Odom is a global consultant, writer, coach and thought leader on civil rights and DEI issues across several sectors. Most recently, she was a consultant to many organizations, and one unique area of focus was working with several United Nations entities in their efforts to address racism and create anti-racist action plans and programs.

She also served as a partner with the U.N. as part of its gender parity strategy. Odom has worked with 15 U.N. entities in nine different countries, focusing on inclusive leadership, unconscious bias and women in leadership.

“As we launch a new five-year strategy for the Walton Family Foundation, we renew our commitment to ensuring community voices are not only heard but that people have a seat at the table to create the solutions that will shape the trajectory of their lives,” Stern said in a statement. “Tanya’s role will strengthen our practices and commitment.”

Odom is a guest faculty member at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. She is the co-author of “Evaluation in the Field of Education for Democracy, Human Rights and Tolerance.” In 2016, Diversity Best Practices named Odom as “A Diversity Thought Leader to Follow on Twitter,” and Entrepreneur Magazine featured Odom in 2017 and again in 2019 as one of the “3 Women Entrepreneurs Who Unleash Their Energy for the Greater Good.”

Odom is a board member of the Institute for Mindful Leadership and the National Society for High School Scholars Foundation. She is also a national volunteer with the American Heart Association and a committee member of the Presidential Advisory on Structural Racism.

The Walton Family Foundation was created in 1987 and is led by the family of Walmart Inc. founders Sam and Helen Walton. Annie Proietti, who is one of their granddaughters, is the board chair. The Walton’s youngest son, Jim Walton, is Proietti’s father.

The foundation’s grants totaled more than $525 million in 2019. The foundation has about 100 employees and additional offices in Denver, Jersey City, N.J. and Washington, D.C.

A foundation spokeswoman said Odom expects to be based in Bentonville.