Those at Upper School chapel at The Episcopal School of Dallas today had the opportunity to hear from a very distinguished guest speaker. Mr. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, visited the ESD this morning to discuss the value in social justice and philanthropy, and share with students what he believes is true success.
Senior Cameron McGee facilitated the talk, prompting Mr. Walker with questions that currently affect our students and society in 2018, such as “How are technology and social media affecting social justice work?,” “What advice would you give to young people entering the world?,” and “What can we do to be valuable members of global society?”
Mr. Walker’s responses resonated deeply with the ESD community, touching on the very foundation of the School and bringing in ESD's Founding Tenets of both service and ethical decision making into the discussion. He encouraged students to see themselves as agents of change in our world. There are many available avenues to take when advocating for human rights and equality, and it’s not limited to exclusively nonprofit work. Mr. Walker explained that you can bring about change in almost any field, whether it be law, finance, or media; you just have to determine how.
“At a school like ESD, you learn the importance of human dignity,” he said. “Then we must ask ourselves, ‘How can we use our privilege to improve the dignity of others?’”
Though his philanthropic endeavors have stretched across the globe, he assures students that you can make a difference wherever you are. The important thing is to have a common goal in social justice. Mr. Walker concluded his time here with a powerful message to students, explaining that they “have the potential to transform society for the better.”
Mr. Walker's visit provided ESD students with inspirational advice and encouragement not only for their futures, but for their present.
ABOUT DARREN WALKER
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment, and $600 million in annual grant making and charitable activities. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and is co-founder and chair of the US Impact Investing Alliance.
Before joining Ford, Darren was 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 and UBS.
Darren co-chairs the NYC Commission on Monuments and Memorials and 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 chairs the Global Social Impact Investment Taskforce of the US National Advisory Board and serves on the boards of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Carnegie Hall, the High Line, PepsiCo, and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and university awards, including the DuBois Medal from Harvard University.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and graduated 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 on 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.