Greater Milwaukee Foundation event promotes transformative philanthropy

Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 18, 2021 – The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is thrilled to introduce Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, as the featured guest for the conclusion of its 2021 A Milwaukee for All community convening series.

Walker will join GMF president and CEO Ellen Gilligan Dec. 3 for an exchange of ideas focused on reimagining philanthropy for transformational impact. The discussion will challenge assumptions and provoke thinking around the necessary discomfort of change, the application of philanthropy for racial equity and the need to remake systems that have excluded communities of color from opportunity by design.

Continuing its year-long commitment to bringing together national experts with local changemakers, the Foundation will once again pair this signature dialogue with a collection of On the Table MKE conversations that will allow guests to engage directly in the change they want to see in their community. 

The virtual event will take place from 9 – 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, and is free to attend.


“All of this year, the Foundation has sought to uphold our promise to the community to deepen our impact, strengthen our connections and work together to build a better Milwaukee for all,” Gilligan said. “This incredible opportunity to hear Darren Walker’s perspective first-hand on the values of equity and philanthropy’s role in advancing social justice is certain to energize our collective work as a community. We are greater together, and this experience will help us be bolder together.”

International insight

The Ford Foundation is a $16 billion international social justice philanthropy established over 80 years ago and headquartered in New York City. Joining the foundation in 2010, Walker has led the organization as its 10th president since 2013 in its mission to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.

Among his many achievements, Walker chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, and under his leadership, the Ford Foundation became the first nonprofit in U.S. history to issue a $1 billion designated social bond in U.S. capital markets for proceeds to strengthen and stabilize nonprofit organizations in the wake of COVID-19. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and is the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. 

Walker is author of “From Generosity to Justice: A New Gospel of Wealth,” which explores how philanthropy is the transformational tool for achieving meaningful and equitable change.

Interact with On the Table MKE

Immediately following the central dialogue, all attendees will have the opportunity to join one of six interactive On the Table MKE discussions that each take a different look at reimagining philanthropy to realize a Milwaukee for all. Topics include:

  • Listening to neighbors – the start and heart of centering community 
  • Building an equity mindset to advance neighborhood early childhood care and education 
  • Low interest, high impact: Providing patient capital to Black and Brown small businesses
  • Coalescing for change: Advancing the first citywide plan for affordable housing
  • Engaging and valuing our community’s future changemakers
  • Food for thought: How collective impact is moving the needle on food insecurity in Milwaukee

Participants will leave their sessions with ideas for individual and collective action.

Thinking strategically 

This three-part special convening series is an extension of the Foundation’s strategic vision of A Milwaukee for All and presents an opportunity to work collectively toward a thriving, inclusive region. With racial equity and inclusion as its North Star, the Foundation is playing a catalytic role by bringing community and philanthropy together, particularly around early childhood education, matters of equitable economic opportunity and the collective work of the ThriveOn Collaboration.

The first two programs in the series drew hundreds of participants interested in collective action.

  • The June 25 session focused on equitable economic opportunity and featured Dr. Andre Perry, senior fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America's Black Cities.”
  • The Sept 17 installment focused on early childhood education and featured Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO, National Association for the Education of Young Children; and Sherri Killins Stewart, Director of State Systems Alignment & Integration, Co-Director of State Services, BUILD Initiative.

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has been at the heart of the civic community, helping donors achieve the greatest philanthropic impact, elevating the work of changemakers across neighborhoods, and bringing people and organizations together to help our region thrive. Racial equity is the Foundation’s North Star, guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change. Leveraging generations of community knowledge, cross-sector partnerships and more than $1 billion in financial assets, the Foundation is committed to reimagining philanthropy, recentering communities and remaking systems to transform our region into a Milwaukee for all.

For media inquiries

Please contact: Jeremy PodolskiMarketing and Communications Manager