Walton Family Foundation names new director for its environment program

Published on
June 26, 2020

Moira Mcdonald has been named as the new environment program director for The Walton Family Foundation, the organization announced on 24 June.

In her role, Mcdonald will help guide the environment program, which “focuses on protecting rivers, oceans, and the communities that rely on them,” the foundation said in a press release.  

"Never in our lives has it been more clear how dependent we all are on a healthy environment to sustain us. Moira understands the complexities of thriving ecosystems and the people and communities that depend on them," Walton Family Foundation Environment Committee Chair Lukas Walton said. "Over the last two decades, the Walton Family Foundation has helped secure the largest water conservation agreement in history, established the sustainable seafood market, and helped launch the largest funded restoration project in the world in coastal Louisiana. Moira is the leader we need to keep driving system-wide changes for a world where nature and people are able to thrive together."

Mcdonald is an established presence within the foundation, having served for nearly 12 years leading the Walton Family Foundation's Mississippi River and Delta Program, leveraging historic funding for coastal Louisiana restoration and overseeing projects aimed at making conservation a more integral part of federal agricultural policy. Before that, she worked as senior advisor at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, where she led efforts on freshwater conservation in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

"Moira is a trusted and sought-after expert inside the foundation and across the field," Walton Family Foundation Executive Director Caryl M. Stern said. "Climate change is touching every part of our world and our work right now, and Moira has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities of this moment."

"Under Moira's leadership, the Walton Family Foundation has helped Audubon expand our Campus Chapter Program to historically black colleges and universities, and engage communities of color more deeply in our coastal restoration work. We are excited to continue this work to intentionally reach out and authentically build a more inclusive and diverse environmental field together," National Audubon Society Community Engagement Director Charles Allen added.

A respect for science and data make Mcdonald an expert strategist, according to Walt Reid, the director of the conservation and science program for the David & Lucille Packard Foundation.

"Moira has a real command of the facts and science, and is incredibly strategic. She understands how to move big pieces of work forward that make real change happen. It's rare to find someone with such wisdom on the science and policy, who also takes the time to connect as a real colleague – and that matters because we need more people to feel connected to this work," Reid said.

Mcdonald has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and is based in Takoma Park, Maryland.

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