Darren Walker

Darren Walker (born August 28, 1959)[1] is a nonprofit executive who serves as president of the Ford Foundation.[2][3][4][5] Walker is a fellow of the Institute for Urban Design, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a board member of the Arcus Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Friends of the High Line, and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies.[6]

Darren Walker
Darren Walker by Brokaw Photography.jpg
Born (1959-08-28) August 28, 1959 (age 61)
EducationUniversity of Texas, Austin (BA, BS, JD)
OccupationPresident of Ford Foundation
Partner(s)David Beitzel (died 2019)

Earlier in his career, Walker worked as a lawyer and investment banker.[7] He has been a teacher of housing, law and urban development at the New York University School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.[8][9][10] He is co-chair of the New York Public Library Council.[11][12][13] He is board of directors vice-chairman at the New York City Ballet.[14] In 2018, Walker joined the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists.[15]

In 2021 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society.[16]

Early life and educationEdit

Walker was born in a charity hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana.[17] Walker was raised by a single mother in Ames and later Baytown, Texas, and was one of the country's first children to benefit from the Head Start Program. Walker said that his background "has given me an understanding of the need for investment in human capital and the centrality of private philanthropy making a difference in human lives."[18]

With financial support from a Pell Grant, Walker was admitted into the University of Texas at Austin. In 1982, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in government and a Bachelor of Science in speech communication. In 1986, Walker graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with a Juris Doctor.[19][20]

CareerEdit

 
Walker at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2020

Walker began his career in 1986 at the international law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, after serving as a summer associate during law school in 1985.[21] In 1988, he joined Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and spent seven years in its capital markets division.[22]

In 1995, Walker left the corporate world to spend a year volunteering at a school in Harlem.[23] He went on to become the chief operating officer at Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community development organization also located in Harlem.[24][25] There, he was able to draw on his private sector experience to advance revitalization in Harlem, including the opening of a Pathmark supermarket in 1999 at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue.[26] He also led the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.[27]

From 2002-2010, Walker was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he oversaw a wide range of programs in the United States and internationally.[28] Also, at the Rockefeller Foundation, he led a recovery program in the southern United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.[29]

He joined the Ford Foundation in 2010 as vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression, one of the foundation's three major program areas.[30] He also oversaw Ford Foundation's regional programming in four offices based in Africa and the Middle East.[31][32] Walker was involved in securing funding for the American Folk Art Museum when the museum was experiencing financial difficulties.[33] Walker served on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's November 2013 Transition Advisory Team.[34][35]

Rockefeller FoundationEdit

In July 2006, Walker was named the Rockefeller Foundation's vice president for United States and international initiatives.[36][37]

At the Rockefeller Foundation, Walker led the foundation’s work in the United States and globally - in supporting innovations that built economic development, sustainability and assets of poor and disadvantaged people - while creating long-term strategies that addressed increasing global migration, movements and urbanization. He also oversaw the foundation’s new strategy and vision for New York City, including directing the Rockefeller Foundation's support of the re-building of New Orleans.[38][39]

Earlier, from 2002, Walker served as the Rockefeller Foundation's working communities program director, where he oversaw a grant-making portfolio in excess of USD$25 million per year that created anti-poverty strategies focusing on education, employment, sustainable community development, and democracy building in the United States.[40]

Ford FoundationEdit

Walker was named president of the Ford Foundation in June 2013. He officially stepped into the role of president in September 2013, succeeding Luis Ubiñas.[41][42]

Operation DetroitEdit

Walker spearheaded efforts to save the Detroit Institute of Arts and city workers' pensions in the Detroit bankruptcy process.[43][44] Walker stated that it was "unprecedented and monumental for philanthropies to undertake this kind of initiative, but if there was ever a time when philanthropy should step up, this is it."[45]

Walker led nine foundations, many with ties to Michigan - including Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, William Davidson Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Ford Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Kresge Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, McGregor Fund, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. These US foundations "have pledged to pool the $330 million, which would essentially relieve the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts museum of its responsibility to sell some of its collection to help Detroit pay its $18 billion in debts. In particular, the foundation money would help reduce a portion of the city’s obligations to retirees, whose pensions are at risk of being reduced in the bankruptcy proceedings. By some estimates, the city’s pensions are underfunded by $3.5 billion."[46] Walker's Ford Foundation pledged to provide $125 million for the $330 million common fund from the nine foundations.[47][48]

Commencement speechesEdit

On May 23, 2015, Walker was commencement speaker for University of Texas at Austin.[49][50][51] On January 21, 2016, at Hunter College: City University of New York, Walker was 212th commencement speaker.[52] On May 18, 2016, Walker spoke at 184th commencement for New York University.[53][54] At Queens College: City University of New York, on June 2, 2016, Walker was 92nd commencement speaker; and, as well, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.[55][56][57] On May 22, 2017, Walker was 184th commencement speaker at Oberlin College[58][59] At Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville: New York, on May 18, 2018, Walker gave 90th undergraduate commencement speech.[60][61][62] On May 20, 2018, Walker gave 206th commencement address at Hamilton College Clinton: New York; and was awarded an honorary degree.[63][64][65] Also, on May 19, 2019, Walker was 218th commencement speaker at University of Vermont.[66][67][68][69] Walker received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Amherst College on Sunday May 26, 2019. [70][71][72]

Personal lifeEdit

Walker is openly gay. His partner of 26 years, David Beitzel, died January 20, 2019, of a cardiac arrest due to an aortic dissection.[73][74][75]

ReferencesEdit

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  4. ^ "Darren Walker, President, the Ford Foundation". Princeton University: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Darren Walker Named New President of the Ford Foundation". Ebony Magazine. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
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  7. ^ Barron, James (July 24, 2013). "At Ford Foundation, Vice President Rises to Top Job". New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
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  10. ^ "Schomburg Forum: Darren Walker & Khalil Muhammad Audio". The New York Public Library. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
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  14. ^ "Board of Directors". NYCB: New York City Ballet. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
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  18. ^ "Darren Walker gets back to his roots in a new post". Crain's. October 20, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "Dean's Alumni Newsletter: October 2009". Public Affairs in The College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin. Archived from the original on April 28, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
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  21. ^ "Interview with Darren Walker". The History Makers. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
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  25. ^ "NY Library Names New Head For Black Culture". Black Radio Network. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
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  33. ^ "American Folk Art Museum Saved Through Last Minute Donation". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  34. ^ "Bill de Blasio Announces 60 Names for Transition Team". New York Observer. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  35. ^ "De Blasio Unveils 60-Person Transition Team". Crain Communications. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
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  38. ^ "New Orleans: Planning for a Better Future" (PDF). Rockefeller Foundation. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
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  40. ^ "The Rockefeller Foundation Appoints Darren Walker To Head Its Working Communities Division". PR Newswire. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
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  42. ^ "ABFE Salutes". ABFE. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  43. ^ "A Statement to the People of Detroit". Ford Foundation Newsroom. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  44. ^ "Is The Ford Foundation's Darren Walker The Savior Of Detroit?". Deadline Detroit, Inc. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  45. ^ "Detroit Bankruptcy: Struggling city ready for comeback". Point of View. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  46. ^ "Foundations Aim to Save Pensions in Detroit Crisis". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
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  48. ^ "Foundation adds $40M to Detroit deal". USA Today. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  49. ^ "Ford Foundation President Darren Walker Asks Graduates to Consider the Road Ahead". University of Texas at Austin News. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  50. ^ "President of Ford Foundation: UT Alumnus Darren Walker to Deliver Commencement Address". Daily Texan Online. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  51. ^ "Throwback: 6 Great Commencement Speeches from UT Austin". University of Texas News. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  52. ^ "Hunter's 212th Commencement: A Great Day in New York City". Hunter College. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  53. ^ "Darren Walker: Ford Foundation President Darren Walker to Speak at New York University's Commencement". New York University. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
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  55. ^ "Queens College celebrates 92nd commencement". Queens Ledger: Weekly Community Newspaper. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  56. ^ "Queens College Holds 92nd Commencement Exercises". Queens Courier: Madina Toure. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  57. ^ "Ford Foundation's Darren Walker, One Of TIME's 100 Most Influential People Of The Year To Speak At 92nd Commencement Ceremony June 2 2016". City University of New York. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  58. ^ "Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, is 2017 Commencement Speaker". Oberlin College and Conservatory. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  59. ^ "Go Forth: Darren Walker". Campus News: Oberlin College and Conservatory. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  60. ^ "President of Ford Foundation Darren Walker to Deliver Undergraduate Commencement Address". Sarah Lawrence College. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  61. ^ "President of Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, to Deliver Commencement Address at Sarah Lawrence College". MyHomeTownBronxville. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  62. ^ "Sarah Lawrence College Holds 90th Commencement Ceremony". News 12: Long Island. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  63. ^ "Ford Foundation President to Give Commencement Address". Hamilton College. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  64. ^ "2018 Hamilton Commencement Photos". Waterville Times. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  65. ^ "Hamilton College Graduates Hundreds". WKTV: Heartland Media. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  66. ^ "VM speaker Darren Walker urges grads to bridge division in America". Vermont Biz. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
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  68. ^ "Students Earn Degrees from the University of Vermont". Reporter Today: East Providence. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  69. ^ "Class of 2019 Turns the Tassels". UVM Today: University of Vermont. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
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  71. ^ "From Generosity to Justice: A Better Vision for 21st-Century Philanthropy". News: Amherst College. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  72. ^ "This goes beyond bittersweet: Amherst College Graduates 484 Seniors". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  73. ^ Rose-Smith, Imogen (May 3, 2017). "Ford's Darren Walker Rips Asset Management Over Diversity". Institutional Investor. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  74. ^ Walker, Darren (November 19, 2014). "Darren Walker: The first out gay president of the Ford Foundation". Windy City Times (Interview). Interviewed by Angelique Smith. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  75. ^ Cagle, Jess (March 7, 2018). "Ford Foundation President on His Coming Out 'Process': 'I Never Thought I'd Fall in Love'". People. Retrieved April 5, 2018.

External linksEdit