Commission Chair, Former CEO and Executive Chairman of Google and founder of Schmidt Futures
Eric Schmidt is an accomplished technologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. As Google’s Chief Executive Officer, he pioneered Google’s transformation from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He served as Google’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman from 2001-2011, Executive Chairman from 2011-2018, and most recently as Technical Advisor. Under his leadership Google dramatically scaled its infrastructure and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a strong culture of innovation.
Eric currently serves on the boards of the Mayo Clinic and the Broad Institute, among others. He is a Gulfstream pilot, and his philanthropic efforts through The Schmidt Family Foundation and the Schmidt Ocean Institute focus on climate change, including the support of ocean and marine life studies at sea, as well as education and cutting-edge research and technology in natural sciences and engineering.
Additionally, he is the co-founder of Schmidt Futures which helps exceptional people do more for others by applying science and technology thoughtfully and working together across fields. In 2019, Eric and his wife Wendy announced a new $1 billion philanthropic commitment to identify and support talent across disciplines and around the globe, beginning with the launch of Rise, a partnership with Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust to increase opportunities for extraordinary young people and empower them to serve others. In May 2020, Eric and Schmidt Futures were selected by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to lead the state’s 16-member Blue Ribbon Commission, which will employ lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to improve and modernize state systems for the future.
A New York Times bestselling author, Eric is the co-author of The New Digital Age, How Google Works, and Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell.
Chief Health Officer & Co-founder, Cityblock Health
Dr. Ajayi, board certified in family medicine, is Chief Health Officer of Cityblock Health, the first tech-driven provider for communities with complex health and social needs–bringing better care to neighborhoods where it’s needed most. Cityblock’s care teams meet members where they are, delivering highly personalized primary care, behavioral health care, and social services to every member, including those who access Medicaid, are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, and others living in lower-income neighborhoods.
Prior to Cityblock, Dr. Ajayi served as Chief Medical Officer of Commonwealth Care Alliance, a nationally renowned integrated health plan and care delivery system for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. In this role, she led clinical operations, spearheaded care delivery innovations, and oversaw multi-disciplinary teams of clinicians, community health workers and administrators serving more than 20,000 beneficiaries across Massachusetts.
She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and her medical degree, with Distinction in Clinical Practice, from King’s College London School of Medicine. She completed her residency training at Boston Medical Center. She continues to practice primary care focused on patients with chronic, complex and end-of-life needs.
President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Elizabeth Alexander – poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate – is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education. With more than two decades of experience leading innovative programs in education, philanthropy, and beyond, Dr. Alexander builds partnerships at Mellon to support the arts and humanities while strengthening educational institutions and cultural organizations across the world.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Alexander served as the director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation, shaping Ford’s grantmaking vision in arts and culture, journalism, and documentary film. There, she co-designed the Art for Justice Fund—an initiative that uses art and advocacy to address the crisis of mass incarceration—and guided the organization in examining how the arts and visual storytelling can empower communities.
Over the course of a distinguished career in education, Dr. Alexander has taught and inspired a generation of students. She was the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University from 2015 until joining the Foundation in 2018. Between 2000 and 2015, Dr. Alexander taught at Yale University, where she was a professor in the departments of African American Studies, American Studies, and English, helping rebuild the school's African American Studies department while serving as its chair for four years. In 2015, she was appointed Yale University's inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry. At Smith College, Dr. Alexander was the Grace Hazard Conkling Poet-in-Residence and the inaugural director of the Poetry Center. While an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, she was awarded the Quantrell Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
An author or co-author of fourteen books, Dr. Alexander was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize: for poetry with American Sublime and for biography with her 2015 memoir, The Light of the World. Her poetry and essays include Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990–2010 (2010), Power and Possibility: Essays, Reviews, Interviews (2007), American Sublime (2005), The Black Interior: Essays (2004), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), Body of Life (1996), and The Venus Hottentot (1990). Accolades for her work include the Jackson Poetry Prize, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the George Kent Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes for Poetry. In 2009, Dr. Alexander composed and delivered a poem, "Praise Song for the Day," for President Barack Obama's inauguration.
Alexander earned a BA from Yale University, an MA from Boston University, and a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds honorary doctorates from Yale University, Haverford College, Simmons College, and the College of St. Benedict. Dr. Alexander is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and serves on the board of the Pulitzer Prize.
President/CEO, Per Scholas
The Per Scholas staff is led by CEO and President Plinio Ayala. He was born and raised in the South Bronx just as it grew into a national emblem for urban poverty and disinvestment. His experience instilled a lifelong passion for creating economic opportunity, and shortly after graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in American Studies, he devoted his career to building “win-win” solutions to social and economic problems, first at Jobs for Youth and then at SoBro. In 2003, he became President and CEO of Per Scholas and has been instrumental in all the organization’s achievements since -- from evolving its original mission, which was to bridge the digital divide by refurbishing end-of-life computer equipment, to leading its accelerating national growth. In the process, he has incubated strong organizational capacities to respond to changing market conditions, pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and embrace rigorous measurements of impact. He often says that he can imagine no greater satisfaction than seeing overlooked people, many of whom have struggled with educational and public systems that seem designed to stymie rather than uplift them, finally channel all their passion and curiosity into life-transforming careers.
University Professor, New York University
Dr. Steven E. Koonin is a University Professor at New York University with appointments in the Stern School of Business, the Tandon School of Engineering, and the Department of Physics. From April 2012 through August 2018 he was the founding director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, a research and education unit focused on big data for big cities. Prior to his time at NYU, Dr. Koonin served as Undersecretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy from May 2009, following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, until November 2011. Prior to joining the government, Dr. Koonin spent five years, from March 2004 to May 2009, as Chief Scientist for BP, p.l.c. From September 1975 to July 2006, Dr. Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech and was the institute's Provost from February 1995 to January 2004. His memberships include the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former member of the Trilateral Commission, a Fellow of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, and a Trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses since 2014. Dr. Koonin has been a member of the JASON advisory group from July 1988 to May 2009, and from November 2011 to present, and served as the group's chair from 1998 to 2004. He also has served as an independent governor of the Los Alamos (2012-2018) and Lawrence Livermore (2012-present) National Security LLCs and of the Sandia Corporation from 2016 to 2017 and was a member of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board from 2013 to 2016. Dr. Koonin holds a B.S. in Physics from Caltech (1972) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT (1975). He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers and supervised some 30 PhD theses.
Incoming President, SUNY Stony Brook
Dr. Maurie McInnis is the sixth President of Stony Brook University, one of America’s leading public universities and an internationally recognized research institution. As chief executive for Stony Brook, Dr. McInnis also oversees Stony Brook Medicine, Long Island’s premier academic medical center, encompassing five health sciences schools, four hospitals, and 120 community-based healthcare settings. She plays a key role in economic development on Long Island and in Stony Brook’s role as a co-manager of Brookhaven National Laboratory.
McInnis most recently served as the executive vice president and provost for the University of Texas at Austin, a top public research university serving more than 50,000 students. A renowned cultural historian and author, Dr. McInnis’ academic scholarship has focused on race, slavery, and power in the American South.
Physician/Author, Assistant Professor at Columbia
Siddhartha Mukherjee is a pioneering physician, oncologist, and author who has redefined our public discourse on human health, medicine and science. A profoundly influential voice in the scientific community, he is best known for his books, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which earned him the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene: An Intimate History which won international awards and was recognized by The Washington Post and The New York Times as one of the most influential books of 2016. His published works exhibit an outstanding literary skill that has left an indelible mark on our culture, as The Emperor of All Maladies has been adapted into a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, and was included among Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of the past century.
Dr. Mukherjee’s achievements as a writer and educator build upon his career as a renowned medical scholar. His groundbreaking studies into the composition and behavior of cancer cells have pushed the boundaries of modern medicine. His innovative research signals a paradigm shift in cancer pathology, and has enabled the development of treatments that reach beyond current pharmaceutical models toward new biological and cellular therapies. Serving as a professor of medicine at Columbia University and as a staff cancer physician at the university’s medical center, Dr. Mukherjee generates hope for countless patients and families around the world, while revolutionizing our blueprint for healing. He writes for the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and many other publications, has received numerous awards for his scientific work, has published his original research and opinions in journals such Nature, Cell and the New England Journal of Medicine, and lives in New York City with his wife and daughters.
Senior Advisor, Providence Equity Advisors
Richard Parsons is a Senior Advisor at Providence Equity Partners, Inc., a leading private equity investment firm specializing in media, communications and information companies. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Citigroup, Inc. Prior to serving in those roles, he was the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Time Warner Inc., the world’s largest media and entertainment company, from 2002 to 2008. In its January 2005 edition of America’s Best CEOs, Institutional Investor magazine named Mr. Parsons the top CEO in the entertainment industry. From May through September, 2014, Mr. Parsons served as the Interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Before joining Time Warner, in 1995, Mr. Parsons was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dime Bancorp, Inc., one of the largest thrift institutions in the United States. Previously, he was the managing partner of the New York law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler. Prior to that, he held various positions in state and federal government, as counsel for Nelson Rockefeller and as a senior White House aide under President Gerald Ford. Mr. Parsons received his undergraduate education at the University of Hawaii and his legal training at Albany Law School.
In 2008, Mr. Parsons served as a member of then President-Elect Barack Obama’s Economic Transition Team. He also served as a member of President Obama’s President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. More recently, he served as the Chairman of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New NY Education Reform Commission. His other civic and non-profit commitments include Chairman Emeritus of the Partnership for New York City; Chairman of the Apollo Theater Foundation; Chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America, and Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He also serves on the boards of Teach for America and the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Mr. Parsons is a member of the boards of the Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., Lazard Frères and Company, and Madison Square Garden, Inc.
Chair/Former CEO, Infor
Charles Phillips is the former CEO and Chairman of Infor, the third largest business software applications company in the world with 90,000 customers in 190 countries and 17,000 employees. During his 9-year tenure the company transformed into the first industry cloud company with over 70 million ERP subscribers on Amazon. Infor was sold to Koch Industries in 2020 for a $13B exit.
Prior to Infor, Phillips was President of Oracle Corporation and a member of its Board of Directors. During his eight-year tenure, the company tripled in size and market capitalization and successfully acquired 70 companies.
Before Oracle, Phillips was a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley in the Technology Group and served on its Board of Directors and was an Institutional Investor All Star for 10 consecutive years.
Phillips served as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines at Camp Lejeune in a line of three generations of military service.
Phillips holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from New York Law School, and an MBA from Hampton University and is a member of the Georgia State Bar Association.
Phillips serves on the Boards of ViacomCBS Corporation, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Apollo Theater, and the Council of Foreign Relations. Phillips also served on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Board, led by former Federal Reserve President, Paul Volcker. He is also the co-founder and Co-Chairman of the Black Economic Alliance, a consortium of business leaders committed to economic growth in Black communities.
President, Cornell University
Martha E. Pollack is the fourteenth president of Cornell University and professor of computer science, information science, and linguistics. She took office on April 17, 2017.
President Pollack is committed to building upon Cornell’s academic distinction and unique strengths as an Ivy League and land-grant university, while also sustaining and enhancing its culture of “educational verve” by investing in new, evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning. She sees Cornell’s founding commitment to diversity and equity as central to its identity and its success, and has engaged the entire university in the work of building an open, inclusive community whose members communicate effectively across difference. In her leadership of Cornell’s many units and campuses, she works to cultivate productive and meaningful synergies across disciplines and geographies, realizing a vision of “One Cornell” that capitalizes on the complementary strengths of our urban and rural identities.
Pollack was previously provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, where she was also professor of computer science and information. An expert in artificial intelligence with a research focus on natural-language processing, automated planning, and the design of assistive technology for people with cognitive impairment, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics at Dartmouth College and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Former Chair, SEIU healthcare
Elected President of 1199 in 1989, Built 1199SEIU into the biggest Union Local. Became chair of SEIU’s Healthcare Division.
When elected 1199 President in 1989, the Union had 75,000 members. Today, 12 other local unions have joined together in 1199SEIU, spawning a dramatic new unity of health care workers into one union that is working to improve healthcare.
1199SEIU had grown to 300,000 members by 2007. Members work in hospitals, nursing homes, homecare agencies, clinics and pharmacies throughout New York State, Maryland, DC and Massachusetts.
Chaired the $1 billion 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund, which provides health care to 650,000 working people in New York, and is the largest self-insured Union healthcare plan in the United States.
Chaired the 1199SEIU Pension Fund, with nearly $11 billion in assets, which provides financial security and dignity to retired healthcare workers in New York.
Chaired the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund that provided training opportunities to 40,000 members a year as MDs, RNs and all the health care professions.
Chaired the Child Care Fund providing 16,000 members' children a year with after school, daycare, summer camp, scholarships and other programs for mostly minority children’s.
Created and Chaired a Citizenship Program to help the union's many thousands of immigrant workers to become U.S. citizens.
Created programs that gives job security guarantees to most of the members of the Union.
Created and Chaired a home mortgage program for members that resulted in more than 10,000 becoming home owners.
As 1199SEIU President, helped to pioneer the Nation-wide Child Health Plus and the Family Health Plus programs for healthcare coverage for New York's children and working poor.
In 2008 Chaired the newly created one million-member national healthcare union in SEIU, with a $120 million budget. The new Healthcare Union’s primary goal was to enact universal healthcare in the United States. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010, achieving an extraordinary leap towards universal care in the U.S.
Co-Chair of the New York State Government sponsored Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) that redesigned and improved access to health care to more than 6 million recipients of Medicaid in NYS in 2011 and 2020.
Executive Chair, IBM
Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty is Executive Chairman of IBM. She was previously Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Ginni became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM in 2012. During her tenure she made bold changes to reposition IBM for the future, investing in high value segments of the IT market and optimizing the company’s portfolio. Under Ginni’s leadership, IBM built out key capabilities in hybrid cloud, security, quantum computing, industry expertise, and data and AI, both organically and through acquisition. IBM acquired 64 companies during Ginni’s tenure as CEO, including Red Hat, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. She reinvented more than 50 percent of IBM’s portfolio, built a $21 billion hybrid cloud business and established IBM’s leadership in AI, quantum computing and blockchain, while divesting nearly $10 billion in annual revenue to focus the portfolio on IBM’s high-value, integrated offerings.
Ginni also established IBM as the model of responsible stewardship in the digital age. She was the industry’s leading voice on technology ethics and data stewardship, working relentlessly to safely usher new technologies into society. She enabled people of diverse backgrounds and education levels to participate in the digital economy by building talent, skills and opportunity for disadvantaged populations. Under her leadership, IBM created thousands of New Collar jobs and championed the reinvention of education around the world, including the explosive growth of the six-year Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, or P‑TECHs, which are helping prepare the workforce of the future, serving hundreds of thousands of students in over 200 schools and 24 countries. She also helped to redefine the purpose of the corporation through her work with the Business Roundtable, expanding corporate commitments to include a wide range of stakeholders, from customers to communities.
IBM also achieved record results in diversity and inclusion under Ginni’s leadership. This included extending parental leave and making it easier for women to return to the workforce through a ‘returnships’ program with hands-on work experience in emerging technologies. This pioneering work was recognized in 2018 by the prestigious Catalyst Award for advancing diversity and women’s initiatives. IBM is the only tech company to have earned this recognition in the past 20 years and the only company ever to be honored four times.
Beginning her career with IBM in 1981, Ginni held a series of leadership positions across the company and led the successful integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, creating a global team of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts.
Ginni has a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern University, where she later was awarded an honorary degree. She also has honorary degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and North Carolina State University.
She serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, the board of trustees of Northwestern University, where she is Vice Chair, the boards of overseers and managers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cyber Group, a member of the advisory board of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, and a member of the Singapore Economic Development Board International Advisory Council.
Co-founder/CEO/Executive Chair, Tribeca Film Festival
Jane Rosenthal is an Oscar and Emmy nominated producer and CEO and Co-Founder of Tribeca Enterprises, a global media company that encompasses the Tribeca Film Festival and award-winning branded content division Tribeca Studios.
Under Jane’s leadership, it was announced in April 2020 that Tribeca launched We Are One: A Global Film Festival in partnership with YouTube.
Most recently, she produced Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award nominated "The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Al Pacino, as well as the Emmy nominated limited series “When They See Us,” directed by Ava DuVernay.
Her more than 50 credits include producing one of the highest-grossing comedy franchises of all time: “Meet the Parents” (2000), “Meet the Fockers” (2004), and “Little Fockers” (2010), as well as Academy Award-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and the Grammy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary “Quincy,” about legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Her theater credits include “We Will Rock You” and “A Bronx Tale: The Musical” on Broadway.
In 2002, following the September 11th attacks, Rosenthal and Robert De Niro established the Tribeca Film Festival to revive lower Manhattan through the healing power of film and storytelling. The inaugural festival stood as a powerful symbol of resilience, showing how the creative community could play an impactful role in the economic revitalization of the city. It was recently announced that James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems bought a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises. This partnership brings together Jane Rosenthal, De Niro, and Murdoch to grow the enterprise.
Rosenthal serves on the boards of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, The Child Mind Institute, Global Citizen, JR’s Can Art Change the World, and interactive media company Eko. She is also Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the non-profit Tribeca Film Institute.
President, SUNY Buffalo
An internationally distinguished researcher and higher education leader, Satish K. Tripathi, PhD, is the University at Buffalo’s 15th president.
Tripathi, who served as UB’s provost from 2004-2011, was dean of the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California-Riverside from 1997-2004. Previously, he spent 19 years as professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, including seven years as department chair.
Tripathi graduated at the top of his class from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Toronto, as well as master’s degrees in statistics from both the University of Alberta and BHU. A fellow of the IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he was awarded honorary doctorates from the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, and Brock University in Canada.
An active leader in the national higher education community, Tripathi is chair of the Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents and serves on the boards of the NCAA Division I, NCAA Board of Governors, College Football Playoff Board of Managers and Internet2. In addition to serving on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reimagining New York State Commission, he has served on the board of directors for the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In 2011, Gov. Cuomo appointed Tripathi as an inaugural co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, a position in which he served until 2017.
Hamdi Ulukaya is founder and CEO of Chobani, one of the fastest growing food companies in the last decade and a pioneer for the natural food movement.
Raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey, Ulukaya launched Chobani in 2007 with the mission of making better food more accessible. In less than five years, Chobani became the No. 1–selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than a billion dollars in annual sales. Chobani has been named to Fortune’s ‘Change the World’ list of companies, was honored with a Salute to Greatness Award by The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and named one of the ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality’ by the Human Rights Campaign.
Ulukaya has always made helping people and having a positive impact on communities a priority for Chobani. From the beginning, the company has donated a portion of its profits to charitable causes, many of them in Idaho and New York where its products are made. A champion of reducing income and wealth inequality nationwide, Ulukaya advocated in support of a proposal to increase the minimum wage in New York that ultimately became law. In addition, Ulukaya implemented a groundbreaking profit-sharing program for the company’s 2,000 employees. He also took the rare step in manufacturing of instituting a six week, fully paid parental leave program for all of the company’s mothers and fathers.
In 2016, Ulukaya launched the Chobani Food Incubator to mentor and support socially responsible food entrepreneurs and further deliver on the company’s mission to provide better food for more people.
A devoted humanitarian, Ulukaya founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees to mobilize the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of the more than 25 million refugees around the globe. He also signed the Giving Pledge and committed the majority of his personal wealth to the cause. For these efforts, he was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and received the United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award, among other recognitions. Ulukaya is also an Oslo Business for Peace Award recipient, a Global Citizen Prize winner and was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work on the refugee crisis and his innovative approach to business.
Ulukaya sits on the board of the Pathfinder Village and is a member of the B Team, a collective of global leaders working to inspire dialogue and business action for a fairer, greener and more human economy. A big fan of independent films and the Turkish soccer team Fenerbahce, Ulukaya lives in New Berlin, N.Y.
President, Ford Foundation
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy with offices in the U.S. and ten regions around the globe. 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 Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy.
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 New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, the New York City Census Task Force, and the Governor’s Commission, and serves on The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and received his bachelor’s and law degrees 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 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, and OUT Magazine’s Power 50.