New York, May 25th, 2022 – Philanthropy innovator and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker has been named a Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters, the highest rank of this order. The award was presented last night by Laurence des Cars, President-Director of the Louvre Museum, at a reception hosted by Ambassador Philippe Etienne at the headquarters of Villa Albertine in New York City.
The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established in 1957 to recognize creators and professionals who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. Mr. Walker receives this distinction in recognition of his decades-long commitment to nonprofit and philanthropic leadership in the Unites States, as well as his ongoing work to foster exchange and dialogue between artists, thinkers, and educators around the world. France is particularly grateful for Mr. Walker’s visionary and unwavering support of marginalized creators, which has benefitted countless artists from France, the French-speaking world and beyond, and contributed tremendously to the global fabric of arts and culture.
Mr. Walker’s support of Franco-American exchange as a pathway to equity and diversity has contributed enormously to the Transatlantic relationship. The Black Model exhibition at the Wallach Gallery and the Musée d’Orsay, notably, would not have been possible without his personal involvement. Mr. Walker has also been instrumental in bringing new perspectives to the US programming of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, helping to expand support for artists and thinkers from France, the African continent, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and more through programs including FACE Contemporary Theater, FUSED: French US Exchange in Dance, Etant donnés Contemporary Art, and five annual exploratory residencies.
“At the helm of Ford Foundation and throughout his career, Darren Walker’s singular vision has impacted the lives of countless artists and communities. His work, particularly in the realm of equity and inclusion, sets the bar for cultural leaders across the world. Mr. Walker more than merits this honor, representing the gratitude and admiration of France,” said Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France to the United States.