Darren Walker leads the foundation's Education, Creativity and Free Expression program. As vice president of one of the foundation's three major programs, he guides worldwide grant making in public education reform, higher education, arts, film, media, sexuality and reproductive health and religion. He also oversees the foundation's regional programming in West Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and Middle East and North Africa.
Darren joined the Ford Foundation in 2010. Previously, he was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he oversaw a broad range of programs in the United States and internationally. Prior to joining Rockefeller in 2002, Darren 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 oversaw the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.
In 1986, Darren began his career at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and in 1988, he joined the Union Bank of Switzerland, where he spent seven years in its capital markets division. After leaving UBS, Darren worked for a year as a full-time volunteer at The Children's Storefront, an elementary school serving low-income families in Harlem.
Darren 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 Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and is a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design. He is a member of the boards of the Arcus Foundation, 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's Visiting Committee.