By Patricia Pasquale, Assistant Vice President for Marketing & Communications, Sarah Lawrence College
May 16, 2018: Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, the renowned international social justice philanthropy organization, will give the address at Sarah Lawrence College’s 90th Commencement on Friday, May 18.
The ceremonies will be held at 10:00 am on Westlands South Lawn. The commencement will be broadcast live; details are available at www.sarahlawrence.edu/commencement.
Widely known for his role in helping to bring a resolution to the City of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and for revitalizing Harlem in the 1990s, Walker oversees the Ford Foundation’s more than $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grantmaking.
As a member of the first class to attend Head Start in 1965, Walker speaks frequently on how the program helped to spark his imagination and give him a view of the larger world.
Raised in a rural Texas town by his mother, he attributed his success to the love and acceptance of his family in helping him to always feel supported and comfortable with his identity as a gay black man.
“We could not have hoped for a more dynamic and relevant speaker for our 90th commencement ceremonies,’’ said Sarah Lawrence president Cristle Collins Judd. “Not only has Darren Walker been a transformative leader in the nonprofit world for more than two decades, but his personal story of achievement resonates deeply with our mission here at Sarah Lawrence.’’
Today, Walker is a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. He chairs the US Alliance on Impact Investing and co-chairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and he serves on the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labor Organization Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Before joining the Ford Foundation, Walker was a vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs including the Rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina. In the 1990s, as COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation—Harlem’s largest community development organization—he oversaw a comprehensive revitalization strategy, including building over 1,000 units of affordable housing and the first major commercial development in Harlem since the 1960s. Earlier, he had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and UBS.
Educated exclusively in public schools, he graduated with a BA and a JD from the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2009 recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award—its highest alumni honor.
He has been included in numerous annual media lists, including TIME’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the World, Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative People, and OUT magazine’s Power 100.
He is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and university awards, including the DuBois Medal from Harvard University.
Pictured here: Darren Walker, commencement speaker at the 2018 Sarah Lawrence commencement.
Photo courtesy the Ford Foundation
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.