On December 8th, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, received the Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership for his positive impact on the philanthropy community. Walker, a longtime foundation professional with extensive nonprofit experience, has been a tireless champion of urban renewal, first at Abyssinian Development Corporation, revitalizing Harlem; then at the Rockefeller Foundation, leading a post-Katrina recovery program in the south; and now at the Ford Foundation, leading a group of foundation leaders to invest in Detroit’s Grand Bargain.
Walker spoke at the award ceremony with Walter Isaacson, the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. Their conversation touched upon one the most pressing issues affecting the nation, the region, and our city: inequality. Under Walker’s leadership, Ford announced that they would invest $1 billion over five years toward social justice organizations that reduce inequality. Isaacson commended this vision, noting that this would make great ripple effects. Walker explained,
“Our deciding factor to focus on inequality is in some ways a result of our focus on our mission and vision. The job of a leader in part is to craft a vision that people are motivated by and people find coherent. The vision of the Ford Foundation is a more just and fair and peaceful world. I believe that greatest threat to that vision is inequality.”
The event took place at the MoMA, and is an annual Aspen Institute Award in memory of Preston Robert Tisch sponsored by Steve Tisch, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.