Hailing from a small town in Texas, Darren Walker credits Head Start with helping him embark on a path that would take him to a law firm on Wall Street and the Union Bank of Switzerland. “I had a great run,” he admits. “But that wasn’t my life’s work.” He began to volunteer, join boards, and spend more time in Harlem, where he would serve as COO of a community development organization.
Eventually, Walker transitioned from grantseeker to funder, first at the Rockefeller Foundation, and now at Ford, where he oversees grantmaking in education and the arts. Unafraid to roll up his sleeves and get involved, this self-proclaimed “arts person” sees his role as being “to humbly, behind the curtain, support [organizations] to realize their vision, to give them…not just a blank check, but an investment that requires that they think very smartly about their future.”