Dickinson State University
Melani Walton is a prominent philanthropist and pioneering leader in conscious conservation who applies a driven mindset and interdisciplinary background to generate awareness about the interconnected nature of conservation, sustainability, health and well-being.
As a co-founder of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation (RMWF) alongside her husband, Rob Walton, Melani has helped to imagine and design a wide range of creative, community-based solutions to address local and global sustainability challenges. Melani’s work though RMWF includes important partnerships with Arizona State University through the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, which has benefited millions of people across five continents while providing training for thousands of students and sustainability professionals; Earthshot Prize, which aims to find breakthrough solutions to environmental challenges; St. Vincent De Paul’s Rob and Melani Walton Urban Farm in Phoenix Arizona, which provides nourishing food to the organization’s largest homeless shelter in the nation; support for the Arizona Humane Society; Liberty Wildlife in Phoenix which provides care to thousands of animals each year and houses a Non-Eagle Feather Repository; and work with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Emory University on an initiative called "The Compassion Shift," which helps people access and harness the power of compassion toward themselves, other people, and the planet.
In addition to Re:wild, Melani currently serves on the boards of African Parks Foundation of America, the National Park Foundation, and Arizona Science Center, and previously served on the boards of the Aspen Brain Forum, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and the Phoenix Symphony. Beyond her board leadership, she is actively involved with a variety of organizations including Conservation International, Team Africa Rising, the Barrow Neurological Institute, and serves as an executive committee member and former co-chair of ASU’s Women and Philanthropy. She has also served as a Trustee of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and is an Emeritus Board Member at the Dickinson State University Foundation.
In recognition of her extensive philanthropic work and leadership, Melani has received the Global ATHENA Leadership Award from ATHENA International, as well as the Theodore Roosevelt Association Medal of Honor, which is given to individuals who have “achieved the highest levels of public service, scholarship, and discovery.” Melani has been recognized with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her longtime leadership in promoting wildlife conservation and sustainability around the globe. She has also been named a Phoenix Theatre Woman of Character, a Trends Magazine trendsetter, and Woman of the World by Childhelp – an organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Dickinson State University, Melani received national All-American honors in academics, basketball, and track and field.