In our 2020 issue, we’re shining the light on some outstanding leading ladies for all their accomplishments and contributions to society.
Executive Director and Vice Chairman, Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation
Mandy was born and raised in Fayetteville. She met the Walker family in the fall of 1996 while she was a Razorback Baseball Diamond Doll. In the ‘90s, the university didn’t fund the diamond doll program so the Walker family was the group’s sponsor. After graduating law school in 2003, the family asked her to embark on the journey of working with them, and she’s been there ever since. Mandy is an ambassador for all things charitable giving not only in Northwest Arkansas, but the state. She’s also the most fashionable gal we know.
B.A. Psychology, University of Arkansas
Juris Doctorate, University of Arkansas
What does it mean to work for a family foundation?
Our community would not be what it is today without the good work of so many individuals and nonprofit organizations. Working with Pat for so many years allowed me to see and be a part of true giving firsthand. Much like my own mother taught us growing up, Pat believed in caring, supporting and giving to neighbors whether that was through time, ideas, a good ear, finances or friendship.
When did you know what you wanted to do?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I started doing it. When I was in school, nobody talked about philanthropy as a career option. We all knew it was important to be philanthropic and help our neighbors, but it wasn’t discussed in the context of being a career path. After working for the foundation for a short period of time, knowing the history of our community and what our community was growing toward, it wasn’t long before I knew working for the Walker Foundation was the right fit for me.
Best part of your job:
Getting to see all types of giving, which represents the very best quality of our community. I’m inspired by the people of Northwest Arkansas because we have a genuine desire to help each other. We want this to be the best place possible to live, even if we don’t all agree on how to achieve that goal. We all want success and that’s promising.
Quality you admired most about Pat:
Pat was a genuine friend to everyone. She wanted the best for everyone. I believe the true depth of her heart, compassion and giving was amazing. I strive to see things as Pat would have seen them.
What nonprofits are you involved with, and why?
I tend to be involved with nonprofits that Pat and Willard supported or at least those that follow the basic mission/philosophy that aligned with their funding priorities. These include: Arkansas Children’s Foundation board of directors; Circle of Life foundation board; University of Arkansas Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee; and Pagnozzi Parker Charities board member. I also serve on several advisory boards for UAMS and am a member of Mercy Health Foundation’s Women with a Mission.
Advice you’d give to other working women:
Be confident in your decisions. Women are always second-guessing themselves. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut and roll with it.
Best part of your day:
5 a.m. when I have my first cup of coffee. It’s quiet and the day is about to unfold.
Surprising fact about Pat:
Her given name was Amy. Willard and Pat met at work in Coffeyville, Kansas. Partly because they were co-workers, and mostly because Willard didn’t love the name Amy, he started calling her Pat and she never looked back.
Do you still seek out mentors or mentees?
Of course! I am constantly looking to others as mentors. I think women can always share good advice with one another and I hope to continue to share best practices and learn from others what they find to be successful. Working at the Walker Foundation has allowed me to find great mentors with compatible passion and dreams for our community.
Thing you’re most proud of:
Continuing Pat’s legacy. Pat is one of the matriarchs of Northwest Arkansas. Her legacy is vital to our community history and just as instrumental in the future of where we are going. Pat was a visionary when it came to philanthropy.