Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy with offices in the U.S. and ten regions around the globe. 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 and the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy.
Before joining Ford, Darren was 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 Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and serves on The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and received his bachelor’s and law degrees 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 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, and OUT Magazine’s Power 50.