NEW YORK — The Ford Foundation announced today that Marca Bristo and Gbenga Oyebode have been elected to serve as members of its Board of Trustees.
Marca Bristo is the founder, president, and CEO of Access Living, a Chicago-based disability service and advocacy organization that empowers people with disabilities to lead independent, satisfying lives. Access Living is nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, and Bristo has worked for more than four decades on local, national, and international social and policy reforms that protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities.
In 1994, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to chair the National Council on Disability, becoming the first person with a disability to hold the position. Earlier, as a member of the US Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities, Bristo worked to draft and win passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. More recently, while president of the US International Council on Disabilities, she campaigned for US ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Bristo’s perspective will be critical as the Ford Foundation carries out its commitment to integrate disability issues into its work addressing inequality in all its forms.
“I am so honored to be joining the board of the Ford Foundation,” said Bristo. “Its mission aligns perfectly with my life’s work: ending injustice and inequality by advancing leadership, inclusion, and empowerment of those at the margins of society and through meaningful enforcement of civil and human rights laws.”
Bristo is a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and of Forefront, the nation’s only statewide membership association aimed at facilitating collective action by nonprofits, grant makers, public agencies, advisors, and allies. She received the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States and the Americans with Disabilities Act Award for her role in the creation and passage of the law. She holds a BA from Beloit College and a BS in nursing from Rush University.
The board also welcomes Gbenga Oyebode, founding partner and chairman of the Nigerian law firm Aluko & Oyebode, where he advises corporations on matters relating to energy and natural resources, telecommunications, project finance, and aviation. Previously, he served as an associate at White & Case and in-house counsel at Gulf Oil.
“I am thrilled to welcome Marca and Gbenga to the board. Together they bring extraordinary experience and passion to issues of social justice,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “Marca has been a longtime advocate for people with disabilities and her accomplishments have improved the lives of millions around the world. Gbenga is a remarkable talent whose sharp legal acumen and decades of advising global corporations will be an invaluable addition to the board.”
Oyebode serves on the Global Advisory Council of the African Leadership Academy. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a director of Teach for All, and chairman of Teach for Nigeria. He is a member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one of Nigeria’s highest honors, and a recipient of the Belgian royal honor of Knight of the Order of Leopold.
He also sits on the boards of Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Africa Philanthropy Forum and is a member of the Cleveland Museum of Arts International Collectors Council.
He holds bachelor of laws degrees from the University of Ife and the Nigerian Law School, a master of laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and he is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association and the International Bar Association. He is also a graduate of the advanced management program at Harvard Business School.
“I am honored and privileged to join the board of the Ford Foundation. I am delighted to be part of the foundation’s mission to address socioeconomic inequality, which is particularly relevant in the current global context,” said Oyebode. “I look forward to working with my fellow trustees and the foundation’s staff as we strive for a more equal world.”
Ford Foundation trustees are elected by its board and serve up to two six-year terms. Trustees set broad policy relating to grant making, geographic focus, investments, governance, and professional standards, and they oversee internal and independent audits. The foundation’s trustees hail from four continents and have extensive experience in the worlds of higher education, business and finance, technology, law, government, and the nonprofit sector.