NEW YORK, 16 March 2010 — The Ford Foundation today announced Darren Walker as its next vice president for Education, Creativity and Free Expression, one of Ford's three major program areas. He will succeed Alison R. Bernstein, who is retiring from the position this spring after 14 years of outstanding leadership. As vice president of one of Ford's three divisions, Mr. Walker will guide more than $150 million in annual grantmaking and serve as an officer of the board of trustees.
Mr. Walker is currently vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he oversees the execution of a broad range of programs in the United States and internationally. Prior to joining Rockefeller in 2002, Mr. Walker served as chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community organization in Harlem. There he led efforts to develop housing for low- and moderate-income families; was involved in two of Harlem's largest privately financed commercial projects in 30 years; and led the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.
"Darren's extraordinary commitment to development efforts that focus on people, especially his commitment to education as the bedrock of our future, makes him a valuable addition to the Ford Foundation family," said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. "We are fortunate to have someone with Darren's talent, experience, and record of accomplishment join us."
Mr. Walker will lead the foundation's work on school reform, next generation media regulation, development of new arts spaces, and sexual health and rights globally. "The spirit of creativity and innovation Darren has evidenced throughout his career—designing arts programs in New York, building a school in Harlem—make him uniquely qualified for this new role," Ubiñas said. "Darren has become a leader in our sector through his distinguished career at Rockefeller, Abyssinian, in the private sector, and in his volunteer service."
Mr. Walker will assume his new position late this spring following a transition period with Ms. Bernstein, who will continue to lead Ford's Education, Creativity and Free Expression program until that time.
"I am proud to have been part of the team that has charted a new course for the Rockefeller Foundation over the past eight years," Mr. Walker said. "I now have the opportunity to help build on Ford's illustrious history in areas of work I have a passion for, and I look forward to working with its staff and grantees around the world to advance its mission."
Mr. Walker began his career in 1986 at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. In 1988, he joined the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), where he spent seven years in its capital markets division. In 1995, after leaving UBS, Mr. Walker worked for a year as a full-time volunteer at the Children's Storefront School, an elementary school serving low-income families in Harlem.
Mr. Walker is a 1982 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where in 1986 he also graduated from the School of Law. He has taught housing, law and urban development at the NYU School of Law and Wagner School of Public Policy and is a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design. He is a member of the boards of the Arcus Foundation, the Friends of the High Line, the New York City Ballet and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. He is co-chair of the New York Public Library Council.