THE DIGITAL REPOSITORY FOR THE BLACK EXPERIENCE
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November 11, 2017
AXA Equitable Building
787 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
An Evening With Franklin Thomas was a live to tape show honoring legal, business, and civic leader, Franklin Thomas. Chaired by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, An Evening With Franklin Thomas featured musical performances by Dianne Reeves, Carmen Lundy, and Ntomb'khona Dlamini. Close friends and associates from Thomas’ time as president and CEO of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and president of the Ford Foundation narrated events from Thomas’ life and spoke to his character as a public servant. Presenters included Ursula Burns, Vernon E. Jordan, Edward Lewis, Gay McDougall, Raymond McGuire, Indra Nooyi, Sandra Phillips, Mamphela Ramphele, Judge Albie Sachs, Henry Schacht, and Gloria Steinem. The evening’s stories highlighted Thomas’ intellect, generosity, and charisma. An Evening With Franklin Thomas was a night that will not be soon forgotten by all in attendance.
Franklin A. Thomas was born on May 27, 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.A. degree in 1956 from Columbia University, and served in the United States Air Force as a Strategic Air Command Navigator, eventually serving as captain. Thomas received his L.L.B. degree in 1963 from Columbia School of Law, and began his career as attorney for Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency's New York office. He served in the Southern District of New York as assistant U.S. attorney, and subsequently as deputy police commissioner in charge of legal matters for the New York City Police Department. Thomas was named president and chief executive officer of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in 1967, serving until 1977. After two years in private law practice, Thomas became the first African American president of the Ford Foundation, where he served from 1979 to 1996. After leaving the Ford Foundation, Thomas served as consultant for the TFF Study Group.
Darren Walker was born in Lafayette, Louisiana in August 28, 1959. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1982, and received his J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1986. Walker was hired at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in 1986. In 1988, he joined the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), where he spent seven years in the capital markets division. Walker then worked as Chief Operating Officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation. He was hired by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2002, as director of its domestic urban program, and in 2006, was promoted to vice president for foundation initiatives. In 2010, Walker was appointed the Ford Foundation’s vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression. In 2013, he was named tenth president of the Ford Foundation, becoming the second African American to serve in that role.