Dean Lloyd Minor welcomes Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, who journeyed from a segregated small town in Texas to a successful career on Wall Street before taking the helm of one of the world’s most impactful philanthropies. Together, they discuss the opportunities for upward mobility that exist in our country and share how living with purpose and pursuing social justice are vital to ensuring everyone can reach their potential. Additionally, Darren discusses the importance of addressing root causes of inequity in America in order to mend divisions and reinforce our common humanity.
Meet Darren Walker
Darren Walker is the President of Ford Foundation, a $16 billion social justice philanthropy. But his journey to lead one of the largest private endowments in the world was atypical.
Born in a charity hospital in Louisiana and raised in a segregated rural Texas town, Darren – a gay, Black man – turned his inclusion in the inaugural class of the Head Start program and other opportunities as a springboard. He earned a scholarship to the University of Texas, and left Austin with two bachelor’s degrees and a law degree.
After a couple of years at an international law firm and eight more as a Wall Street investment banker, Darren transitioned to the nonprofit sector – first as Chief Operating Officer of Abyssinian, Harlem’s largest community development organization.
Throughout his career, including as a leader at Rockefeller Foundation and over the past 12 years as Ford Foundation’s President, Darren has pioneered a new vision for philanthropy. In his 2019 book “From Generosity to Justice,” he makes the case for how giving can be a tool for achieving economic, social, and political justice.