Now that its former president, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, has moved on to become director of the Office of Management and Budget and is busy sending out the official memos starting the government shutdown, the Walmart Foundation has named a new president: Kathleen McLaughlin, a senior partner at McKinsey and Co. She starts October 15.
Under Burwell’s leadership, the Walmart Foundation’s activities were notoriously not purely philanthropic. In fact, the Foundation wielded its largesse as a tool in supporting Walmart’s business goals. Indeed, as The Nation reported last February: “Under the leadership of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Walmart Foundation used generous gifts to grease the way for store expansions.” More specifically, according to the report, the Foundation “has donated considerable cash to groups that have gone on the record to support Walmart during its most contentious political disputes, including the ongoing effort to open stores in New York City. The foundation also donates directly to municipalities, funds groups tied to powerful elected officials and instructs grantees to publicize Walmart’s generosity.”
With McLaughlin in charge, will the Foundation’s “philanthropy” continue down the same cynical path Burwell laid out?