Audio interview with Darren Walker

The value of curiosity and saying, “maybe.”

The story of Darren Walker’s life is a quintessential American story. He was born to a single mother in a charity hospital, lived in a shotgun shack in a small, rural community in East Texas, attended public schools and colleges. Darren was in the first class of Head Start in 1965, received Pell Grants, and private scholarships. Today, as he put it himself recently in a commencement address at the University of Vermont: 

I am black. I am gay. I live in Manhattan, that tiny island moored off the coast, and a little unmoored from reality. And I spend much of my time traveling across the country and around the world, meeting visionary, courageous, resilient people fighting poverty, inequality, and injustice. 

Darren is the type of person who can put you at ease and spot your hidden talents. He is down-to-earth and relatable. Darren is also brilliant and helping to change the world of philanthropy, and as a result, making America a better place.

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Darren Walker

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy with offices in the US and ten regions around the globe. For two decades, he has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Walker led the philanthropy committee that helped bring a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, and chairs the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. He 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 the 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 also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Educated exclusively in public schools, Walker 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.

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