Darren Walker is the president of the Ford Foundation, a prominent U.S. philanthropy with headquarters in New York City and offices in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Mr. Walker, who was appointed president in July 2013, has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors for more than two decades, focusing on global social justice issues, including human rights, urban development and free expression.
As the Ford Foundation’s vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression from 2010 to 2013, he shaped more than $140 million in annual grant-making around the world, covering areas as diverse as media and journalism, arts and culture, sexuality and reproductive health and rights, educational access and opportunity, and religion. He was a driving force behind JustFilms, one of the largest documentary film funds in the world, ArtPlace, a public-private collaboration that supports cultural development in cities and rural areas in America, and many other initiatives. He also oversaw regional programming in the foundation’s four offices in Africa and the Middle East.
Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Mr. Walker was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he led both domestic and global programs. Beginning in 2002, he helped guide the foundation’s programs in education, civil rights, workforce development and program-related investments. He also supervised Rockefeller’s regional offices overseas, initiated new programming in urban development and arts and culture, and led its post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery Program.
After beginning his career at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, Mr. Walker joined the Union Bank of Switzerland’s capital markets division in 1988, staying there for seven years. When he left UBS, it was to volunteer at The Children’s Storefront, an elementary school serving low-income families in Harlem. Finally, he entered the nonprofit sector as chief operating officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community development organization in Harlem.
Born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, Mr. Walker graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982 and its School of Law in 1986. Today, he is a member of the boards of the Arcus Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Friends of the High Line and New York City Ballet, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.