Pharmacy alumna establishes scholarship

Donna J. Walker ’79 has agreed to create and endow the Walker Pharmacy Leadership Scholarship Endowment Fund for $525,000, launching a student leadership initiative that will identify, educate and recognize top pharmacy student leaders at the University of South Carolina.

The gift will be announced by USC President Harris Pastides at a gift announcement celebration on Friday, Oct. 4, at the College of Pharmacy on the USC campus.

“The Walker Pharmacy Leadership Scholars Endowment will actively promote development of leaders in pharmacy,” said Walker, who is president of Pulido Walker Foundation. “Our hope is that these students will make substantive contributions during their pharmacy careers through exceptional leadership in business, health policy, and advocacy.”

The gift reflects Walker’s ongoing leadership with Carolina’s Promise, the $1 billion fundraising campaign for USC. She serves on the Carolina’s Promise Campaign Committee. The College of Pharmacy has a $40 million goal as part of that campaign and the Walker gift helps push its total raised to more than $36 million.

“The gift enables us to develop a leadership initiative that will be a significant benefit to our students and our profession,” said pharmacy Executive Dean Joseph T. DiPiro. “The Walker endowment fund will provide our students with the resources they need to develop and refine leadership skills that will be critically important to their own successful careers. Donna is an excellent role model for that.”

Walker’s B.S. in pharmacy from USC followed in the footsteps of her father Tony Walker, who earned a pharmacy degree there in 1957. Her mother, Jeannette Hobbs Walker, is also a USC graduate. Donna Walker also has an MBA from USC.

“While a student at Carolina, the leadership opportunities that I had gave me the chance to develop communication, teamwork, planning, and problem solving skills that became a foundation for my success in the corporate world,” said the Columbia, S.C. native and current resident of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. “From serving in student government and my pharmacy professional society to leading a consortium as a graduate assistant, every experience provided a chance to improve my skills. The more I got involved, the more doors that opened.

“I would like to ensure other pharmacy students have the opportunity to develop their own skills and encourage them to be leaders in our profession.”

Funds from the Walker endowment may be used for scholarship support, academic and leadership development, career development, experiential learning, travel and other curricular and experiential components.

The goals for the program include promoting a vision for leadership development for pharmacy students on the USC campus and catalyzing the creation of new projects on campus related to leadership.

“The success of the pharmacy profession in addressing health care needs in the years ahead depends on a number of factors--the pharmaceutical knowledge and skills acquired, professional attributes developed, as well as the leadership of individuals entering the profession,” Walker said. “We must attract and educate promising student leaders with high potential to grow professionally in order to best serve patients and solve today's pressing health care issues.”

Walker’s husband, Mark Pulido, is also a pharmacist. Together they started the Pulido Walker Foundation, which is a family foundation with a focus on youth development.

Prior to that, she worked first with her father as a pharmacist at Cedar Terrace Pharmacy in Columbia, S.C. and then moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the American Pharmaceutical Association, the national professional society for pharmacists.

“Dad gave me advice,” she said. “He said to choose a degree that has a profession associated with it because when you graduate there is a community of like-minded people with whom you can collaborate. He got a great deal of satisfaction as a leader in the profession.”

After receiving her MBA from USC, she joined 3M Pharmaceuticals in Minneapolis, Minn. She held various positions of increasing responsibility in the sales, marketing, and international management areas within the pharmaceutical division.  Later in her career, she served as the North American Sales and Marketing Director for the 3M Telecom Division.

She has been involved with numerous community organizations including: The Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, The Rancho Santa Fe Community Center, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, and the San Diego Grantmakers. She is the immediate past chair of the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, a collaborative grant making organization that has provided more than $2 million to 54 nonprofit organizations in the last seven years.

In 2007, she was an honoree of the North County Philanthropy Council for her philanthropic endeavors. Currently, she serves on the President’s Initiatives Committee for USC and the Rancho Santa Fe Community Foundation Board of Directors. She is also the president of the Parents’ Association and a member of the board of trustees for The Bishop’s School.

In her spare time, she and Pulido are the proprietors of Pulido~Walker, a boutique winery in Napa Valley, Calif. Earlier this year, Pulido~Walker released the inaugural vintage of their single vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignons.

Walker and her husband live in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. with their 16 year-old son, Chas.  

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