President, Ford Foundation
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grantmaking. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and is co-founder and chair of the US Impact Investing Alliance.
Before joining Ford, Darren was a vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs including the Rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina. In the 1990s, as COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation—Harlem’s largest community development organization—he oversaw a comprehensive revitalization strategy, including building over 1,000 units of affordable housing and the first major commercial development in Harlem since the 1960s. Earlier, he had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS.
Darren co-chairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and serves on the Commission on the Future of Rikers Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labor Organization Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Gallery of Art, Art Bridges, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the HOW Institute for Society, the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and university awards, including the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2009 recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award—its highest alumni honor. He has been included on numerous annual media lists, including Time’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative People, and Out magazine’s Power 50.