Walmart Foundation gets leader from Gates' group

Reuters News

10/14/2011 12:08:46 AM - Reuters News

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc named Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the president of the Walmart Foundation, its philanthropic arm, replacing Margaret McKenna, who is retiring after four years in the role.

Burwell is currently president of global development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has been at that foundation, started by the Microsoft Corp co-founder and his wife, since 2001.

Burwell, who will join Wal-Mart in January, will also lead the company's global women's economic empowerment initiative, an effort that was launched one month ago.

She will also guide the world's largest retailer's social, environmental and economic opportunity efforts in Africa, Wal-Mart said on Friday.

Burwell will report to Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of corporate affairs.

Wal-Mart is working on efforts in a number of areas, including sustainable agriculture, fighting hunger and working to make it easier for U.S. shoppers to buy more affordable healthy food.

Last year, Wal-Mart gave more than $799 million in cash and in-kind gifts around the world. In 2010, Wal-Mart and the foundation pledged $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the United States.

Before joining the Gates Foundation, Burwell served as deputy director of the office of management and budget, deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

McKenna announced her retirement this spring. Friday is her last day with Wal-Mart, though she will consult with the company through the transition.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Gary Hill)