When Gayatri Agnew was in middle school, her single mother became a full-time kindergarten teacher, changing their family’s future. That influenced Agnew to spend her life ensuring people have meaningful work and a sense of purpose in earning a living.
Born in Palo Alto, Calif., Agnew earned a political science degree from Seattle University in 2003. She worked as special assistant for Gov. Christine Gregoire, then as executive director for AmeriCorps in Seattle. After receiving her MBA in 2012 from Seattle University, Agnew worked in India for a year as an American India Foundation fellow then returned to the U.S. as program director for the Wadhwani Foundation. In 2014 she joined Walmart as director for Walmart Giving, becoming senior director in 2017.
Agnew leads strategy and philanthropy in her role, focusing on education, skills and career pathways to create economic opportunities to ensure meaningful work is available to all, especially those who haven’t attended college.
Possibly the first Asian American woman elected in Arkansas, Agnew serves on the Bentonville City Council. She was elected in November 2020 promising smart growth and an inclusive community. She also ran for the state legislature in 2018 for a seat that had never had a Democrat, a woman or a person of color.
To make sure motherhood and work co-exist in meaningful ways, Agnew mentors women, co-founded Walmart Career Moms and Mother’s Monday and serves on the Vote Mama Foundation and Mother and Path Forward boards.
Agnew was selected as a 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholar, working to change the culture for moms in corporate America. She received the Sam Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020 for her role in creating Live Better U, Walmart’s education benefits program.