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Darren Walker

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Information about Darren Walker

Profile image of Darren Walker

Interview Date

August 26, 2014

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Executive
Foundation President

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Carribean
Favorite Quote:
You Know What I Mean

Birthplace

Born:
8/28/1959
Birth Location:
Lafayette, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Executive
Foundation President

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Carribean
Favorite Quote:
You Know What I Mean

Birthplace

Born:
8/28/1959
Birth Location:
Lafayette
See how Darren Walker is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Non-profit executive and foundation president Darren Walker was born in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1959, and raised in Ames and Goose Creek, Texas. 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. He left UBS in 1995 and worked for a year as a full-time volunteer at The Children’s Storefront, an elementary school serving low-income families in Harlem. Walker then entered the nonprofit sector as chief operating officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community development organization in Harlem, where he guided efforts to develop housing for low and moderate-income families. In this capacity, he oversaw two of Harlem's largest privately financed commercial projects as well as the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.

Walker was hired by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2002 as director of its domestic urban program. In 2006, he was promoted to vice president for foundation initiatives, where he led both domestic and global programs. Then, in 2010, Walker was named the Ford Foundation’s vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression, where he shaped more than $140 million in annual grant-making around the world. Walker was appointed the tenth president of the Ford Foundation in September of 2013, becoming the second African American to head the foundation.

He has served on the boards of the Arcus Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Friends of the High Line, the New York City Ballet, and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. He also co-chaired the New York Public Library Council. In addition, Walker has taught housing, law and urban development at the New York University School of Law and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and is a fellow of the Institute for Urban Design. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has received the University of Texas Distinguished Alumni Award as well as the Honorary Order of the Coif by its law school. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from Bard College and Miami Dade College.

Walker lives in Manhattan, New York with his partner, David Beitzel, a contemporary art dealer.

Darren Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 26, 2014.

See how Darren Walker is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darren Walker's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darren Walker lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darren Walker talks about his mother, Beulah Davis Spencer
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darren Walker describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darren Walker recounts his childhood years in Ames, Texas and Baytown, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darren Walker describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darren Walker talks about family life and his personality as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darren Walker describes his active childhood imagination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darren Walker recounts role models he read about in Ebony and Jet magazines
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darren Walker talks about the role of church in his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Darren Walker describes his awareness of the Civil Rights Movement as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Darren Walker recalls his childhood education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darren Walker remembers his grade school teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darren Walker remembers his experience at Sterling High School in Baytown, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darren Walker talks about his experience at the University of Texas at Austin, and coming to terms with his sexual identity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darren Walker talks about his activities in the Texas Student Union and the Friar Society at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darren Walker recalls his first experience at a country club with a college suite mate
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darren Walker describes his mentors from college who inspired him to go to law school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darren Walker recalls his job in the office of Texas Governor Bill Clements prior to law school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darren Walker talks about his summer internship at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York City while a student at the University of Texas School of Law
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darren Walker describes his first years at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darren Walker talks about his experience at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darren Walker talks about his experience at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, pt.2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darren Walker recalls his introduction to Ned O'Gorman and then to HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darren Walker describes New York City in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darren Walker talks about his tenure at UBS
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darren Walker talks about how he became a board member of the New York City Ballet and of the Children's Storefront School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darren Walker describes how his social and civic engagement benefited from his position at UBS
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darren Walker talks about leaving Wall Street and joining the Abyssinian Development Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darren Walker talks about becoming the COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darren Walker talks about his work in the Abyssinian Development Corporation with Karen Phillips and HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darren Walker recalls the recommendation from HistoryMaker Stacey Stewart that led him to his joining the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darren Walker describes his appointment as director of the domestic urban program at the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darren Walker talks about his ascent from program director to vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darren Walker talks about his mentors and supporters including Johnnetta Cole, Ann Fudge, Franklin Thomas, and HistoryMakers Richard Parsons and Vernon Jordan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darren Walker talks about African American foundation presidents Franklin Thomas, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and HistoryMakers Earl Lewis and La June Montgomery Tabron
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darren Walker talks about Franklin Thomas, the first African American president of the Ford Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darren Walker describes the impact of President Bill Clinton's move to Harlem, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Darren Walker talks about his tenure at the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Darren Walker talks about the Ford Foundation's focus on social justice
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Darren Walker describes how he became the president of the Ford Foundation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Darren Walker talks about the Ford Foundation's budget and challenges
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Darren Walker describes how he has been a beneficiary of the Ford Foundation's legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Darren Walker describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Darren Walker reflects upon his legacy