On March 20th, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker delivered the 30th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, a leading national forum for arts policy, intended to stimulate discussion of policy and social issues affecting the arts. The lecture provides an opportunity for public discourse at the highest levels on the importance of the arts and culture to our nation's well-being.  Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch delivered opening remarks with formal introductions and a Q&A by Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden.  The evening featured special performance by the incomparable artist Anna Deavere Smith.

2017 Transcript

Opening Remarks
Robert L. Lynch
President and CEO, Americans for the Arts

Thelma Golden
Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator

Darren Walker
President, The Ford Foundation

Anna Deavere Smith
Actress, Playwright, and Teacher

Watch the 2017 Nancy Hanks Lecture

Watch the 2017 Nancy Hanks Lecture Q&A with Darren Walker and Thelma Golden



Darren Walker is President of the Ford Foundation, the nation’s second largest philanthropy, and for two decades has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. He led the philanthropy committee that helped bring a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and chairs the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance.  Prior to joining Ford, he was Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation where he managed the rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina.  In the 1990s, as COO of Harlem’s largest community development organization, the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Darren oversaw a comprehensive revitalization program of central Harlem, including over 1,000 new units of housing. He had a decade long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS.  He is a member of the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island and serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, New York City Ballet, the High Line, the Arcus Foundation and PepsiCo.  Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren received the “Distinguished Alumnus Award,” the highest honor given by his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.  In 2016, TIME magazine named him to its annual list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of ten honorary degrees and university awards.