Forty Under 40: Rachel Spencer

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,078 views 

Class of 2022 Forty Under 40 Rachel Spencer Senior Manager; Walmart.org Walmart Inc., Bentonville

Rachel Spencer’s interest in transforming food systems led her to Arkansas over a decade ago. As a result of her success at the grassroots, state, regional and national levels, she returned in 2020 to support Walmart’s philanthropic work.

“When you want to do big-picture, mission-oriented work, there’s no better place to do it than Walmart,” she said.

Born and raised in Georgia, Spencer earned a degree in environmental health from the University of Georgia in 2011. She spent the next three years working in Arkansas for the national nonprofit FoodCorps, connecting kids to healthy food in schools.

Spencer returned to school in 2014, earning a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas two years later.

After that, she went to work for the USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems in Dallas and Washington, D.C. Among numerous assignments, she served as the regional lead for the department’s Food & Nutrition Service, coordinating the approach to increasing local food availability in child nutrition programs in seven states.

For Walmart.org, which represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart Inc. and the Walmart Foundation, Spencer leads regional efforts to improve racial equity, food security, business initiatives and community belonging. She led a philanthropic portfolio that executed more than $25 million in grants during its most recent fiscal year.

The company recently promoted Spencer, and she is transitioning to a role focused exclusively on food-related strategy.

Spencer serves on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s working group to present recommendations to reduce food deserts throughout Arkansas. Earlier this year, she was one of 18 people selected for the inaugural cohort of the Aspen Institute’s Food Leaders Fellowship.