Michelle D. Gilliard, Ph.D.

Partner, Venture Philanthropy Partners

Gilliard came to Venture Philanthropy Partners from the Walmart Foundation where she was senior director. Joining Walmart in 2008, she helped put into place the company’s first strategic approach to giving. Gillard provided leadership in the creation of the Foundation’s national grant-making processes and procedures, and also helped to refine the areas of giving.

Her leadership of the Foundation’s National Giving Program included the oversight of philanthropic and corporate giving in the areas of Education, Diversity & Inclusion, Economic Opportunity, Health & Wellness, Sustainability, and Workforce Development/Career Opportunity. She also oversaw both domestic and international giving in support of Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative. Walmart Scholarships and the Teacher’s Reward Program were also under her director.

While at Walmart, Gilliard refined her expertise with developing and funding large-scale collaborative initiatives to address complex social problems including, for example, MyFreeTaxes.com and Walmart Washington@Work.

The Walmart Foundation is one of the world’s largest corporate foundations and made charitable contributions of $958.9 million during the fiscal year ending January 31, 2012 in cash and in-kind donations globally; $872.7 million was donated in the US.

Prior to joining Walmart, Gilliard’s career focused on helping institutions of higher learning improve their ability to fulfill their educational mission. Working with administrators, faculty, staff and students, she has addressed these issues through the lens of faculty development, institutional research, college access and success, organizational development, and civic engagement.

Gilliard has served as vice president for programs at the Foundation for Independent Higher Education (FIHE), vice president for planning and evaluation at the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), executive director of the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education (CAPHE – an operating unit of CIC), and executive advisor of MG Associates.

Gilliard has served on numerous boards and advisory panels, including performing arts and community service boards in Washington, DC.

Gilliard holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, a master’s degree from Brown University, a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan, and an executive master’s degree in International Service from American University.

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