Barry Gold, Walton Family Foundation

TITLE: Director, Environment

FUNDING AREAS: Freshwater and Marine Conservation, Special Environmental Projects

CONTACT: bgold@wffmail.com, 202-457-9017

IP TAKE: Though he's new to Walton, if ever there were a list of program directors who know the ins and outs of environmental issues across the board, Gold would be in the top tier of that list. 

PROFILE: As the brand new head of the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation, Barry Gold parlays his experience and knowledge into conserving water-based ecosystems around the globe.

Gold's educational background prepared him well for his journey to the pinnacle of environmental philanthropy. Gold earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Miami, a master's in ecology from the University of Connecticut, another master's in science policy from George Washington University, and a science doctorate in technology and human affairs from Washington University in St. Louis.

Gold's work history is equally impressive. Before entering the world of philanthropy, Gold held jobs at the United States Department of the Interior, the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Before joining the Walton Family Foundation, Gold was at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for almost nine years, overseeing its marine environment protection projects on a grand scale. He also spent four years managing the David and Lucile Packard Foundation's efforts to protect and restore ecological systems for four years, and headed the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center for six years prior to that. From June 2010 until June 2013 he also served as board president of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity (CGBD).

In 2013, at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Gold oversaw the distribution of more than $37 million to 30 grant projects through his intitiative there. At Walton in 2013, the Environment program doled out more than $93 million, so it seems as though Gold will have even more tools to play with in this new job. In 2013, the vast majority of Walton's funding was geographically specific: The Colorado River, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of California, and the Gulf of Mexcio were main focal points, though they also supported best practices in the seafood industry and other environmental initiatives (you can see the full list here).

It remains to be seen how Gold will affect the Walton Family Foundation's focus moving forward, but it is notable that, per their press release, though he starts with the department at the end of June 2014, "Later this year, he will be responsible for working with the Walton family, foundation staff and other partners to create a strategic plan for an environment portfolio that includes grants totaling more than $90 million annually." This suggests that the foundation is looking to parlay Gold's previous experiences into an opportunity to expand their own support. Stay tuned.