The Financial Times profiles Darren Walker

The Financial Times explores the career trajectory of the foundation's president, and why a simple coffee mug is one of his favorite mementos.

Published in the Financial Times | April 7, 2016
At Work with the FT: Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation
By Sarah Murray

It is easy to imagine the trepidation a grant-seeker might feel stepping into the cathedral-sized lobby of the Ford Foundation’s headquarters in New York. But impressions of a remote, inaccessible institution dissipate on meeting Darren Walker, its ebullient president.

Mr Walker is not a typical foundation chief. He may now decide how to spend one of the US’s biggest charitable endowments — established in 1936 by Edsel Ford, son of Ford Motor Company’s founder Henry — but he was also once one of its beneficiaries.

His background is strikingly similar to that of many of the people the foundation helps in its mission to combat inequality. He was born in a Louisiana charity hospital, which offers free or cheap healthcare to poor patients, and raised in a small Texas town by a single mother. “I know what it feels like to grow up worrying about money,” he says.

 

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.