Darren Walker: Using privilege to fight privilege

Darren Walker speaks with The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart about using privilege to fight inequality and his vision for the Ford Foundation. 

Published in The Washington Post | August 30, 2016

Darren Walker: Using privilege to fight privilege

By Jonathan Capehart

Say the name Darren Walker anywhere in New York City or in the world of philanthropy, and you’re guaranteed to get one of two reactions: big smiles or expressions of awe, if not both. Walker’s reputation for hard work, bridge-building and empathy are among the many reasons his elevation three years ago to president of the Ford Foundation was greeted with universal applause.

But there’s another reason for Walker’s success. The man Time Magazine named as one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World” is unapologetically black and openly gay in a world where both identities are rare. “It’s the only way I know how to be,” Walker told me in the third episode of “Cape Up.” “It is who I am. It is my identity. It is my humanity. And I believe that each of us needs to bring all of our humanity to the table.”

Walker’s humanity and the upbringing that shaped it were unflinchingly revealed in the New Yorker profile of him and the $12 billion foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropy, he leads. “I embrace my past,” Walker said when I asked him about this. “I didn’t have to study the context of a low-income, rural community to know about poverty. I lived that experience.”

Listen to Darren Walker on "Cape Up" below.

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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.