Walmart's communications head Leslie Dach is leaving in June, the company said today.
Mr. Dach, 58, is exec VP of corporate affairs, with responsibility for public policy, government relations, corporate communications and sustainability initiatives. Walmart is searching for a successor, Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke said a memo to employees.
Mr. Dach, who commutes weekly between his Washington home and the company's Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters, told Mr. Duke that now is the "right time" to leave, according to the memo.
When Dach's appointment was announced in 2006, observers including Patricia Edwards, then a money manager at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich, said Mr. Dach would help Walmart augment its image. At the time, critics said the company needed to improve working conditions for its employees -- complaints still voiced by union-backed groups such as OUR Walmart.
Before joining the world's largest retailer, Mr. Dach held senior positions in Democratic presidential campaigns and handled work for the Clinton administration. He has served on the government-relations staffs of the National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund. He has been a special assistant to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and sits on the World Resources Institute board.
He was also vice chairman of PR giant Edelman where his work included leading Walmart's corporate social responsibility division. Edelman currently works on corporate PR for Walmart.
"Leslie has played a pivotal role in helping us understand the broader role Walmart can play in meeting the major challenges facing society today, and social goals are now an integral part of how we run our business," Mr. Duke said in the memo. He cited Mr. Dach's work in the areas of hunger, nutrition and women's economic empowerment.
Mr. Dach led efforts to improve the company's corporate image through environmental and anti-obesity initiatives and others aimed at making the company seem "more worker- and women- friendly," Faye Landes, an analyst at New York-based Cowen Group Inc., said in a note.
He was a frequent participant at analyst meetings, where "he convincingly documented the company's improved standing in consumers' eyes," said Ms. Landes said in the note.