Family: Daughter of Rob Walton. Married to Greg Penner; four children
Age: 43 (born August 12, 1970)
Residence: Atherton, CA; home is valued at $20.6 million. Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner also own a $7.5 million home in Carmel, CA. They are clients of luxury landscape architect Ron Herman, who was once described in Fortune magazine as “gardener to the plutocracy.”
Unknown. However, her father Rob Walton has an estimated net worth of $34.2 billion (as of March 2014). In addition, her husband Greg Penner manages Madrone Capital Partners, an investment firm “affiliated with S. Robson Walton and other [Walton] family members.” Madrone’s investments include a $1 billion investment in the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a $33 million investment in the failed search engine Cuil, and a stake in the bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra, which was raided by the FBI in September 2011.
Educational and professional background
- High School: Governor Dummer Academy (Massachusetts; now known as the Governor’s Academy), 1988
- BA, Georgetown University, Economics and History
- MA, Stanford University School of Education, 1997
Walton Penner, a stay-at-home parent, supports the “school choice” education reform movement, seeking to shift resources from public education to privately-funded options or impose market economic frameworks on public education. One summary biography of her explains that the Walton Family Foundation, of which she is a board member, “believes that the best way to achieve continuous and sustainable improvements in K–12 schools is to create competition among schools by empowering parents to choose among them.”
Her previous jobs have included:
- Program Officer for Education, Walton Family Foundation
- Research Analyst for an evaluation of the Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers
- Evaluator, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
- Consultant, Willowbrook International Preschool, Tokyo, Japan
Walton Penner is an active donor to politicians at both the federal and state level, and has used her wealth to promote political causes in states she doesn’t live in.
Walton Penner has been an active donor to politicians running for federal office. She gave the most during the 2004 election cycle, when she gave more than $100,000 to politicians—97% to Republican candidates.
Examples of state-level contributions
- Louisiana: In October 2011, Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner each donated $5,000 to Kira Orange Jones, a candidate for the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Orange Jones, the Teach for America head in New Orleans who was elected to the BESE in this fall’s election, is said to have “[run] as the embodiment of post-Katrina reform efforts in New Orleans”—reform efforts that have been focused on charter schools and school privatization. Greg Penner is on the board of Teach for America.
- Wisconsin: Walton Penner has funded Republican candidates for state office in Wisconsin, a state she doesn’t live in. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported in September 2011, Carrie Walton Penner was the second-largest individual contributor to winning state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections that put Republicans in control of the state government; six of the top ten donors were members of the Walton family. Under the first budget passed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-majority legislature, funding for public schools was cut by $800 million over two years, while funding for programs that funnel public money to private schools increased by $17 million over two years.
- Walton Family Foundation: Board of Directors
- The KIPP Foundation: Board Member. The KIPP Foundation is charged with growing the network of KIPP charter schools and provides supports and services for the KIPP network.
- Alliance for School Choice: Board Member. The Alliance for School Choice is a 501(c)(3) school choice advocacy group affiliated with Republican activist Betsy DeVos.
- American Federation for Children: Board Member. The American Federation for Children is the 501(c)(4) (lobbying/political) arm of the Alliance for School Choice.
- California Charter Schools Association: Board Member; CCSA seeks to grow the number of publicly-funded charter schools in California.