Is the American Dream Finished?

October 30, 2020  • Aspen Ideas Now

Do billionaires put democracy at risk? Will Main Street survive? Ford Foundation President and CEO Darren Walker joins PayPal CEO Dan Schulman to consider the unfinished work of building a more just economy. This conversation was produced in collaboration with our partners at Unfinished, a new impact network and media platform exploring the most urgent questions of our time. The video is an extended-cut version of a shorter one that aired this week during the first episode of Unfinished Live, a multimedia digital experience hosted by Baratunde Thurston.

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About the Speakers

Dan Schulman is the President and CEO of PayPal. He is focused on transforming financial services and e-commerce to improve the financial health of billions of people around the world. With extensive experience in payments and mobile technology, Dan is leading PayPal to reimagine how people move and manage money, and how merchants and consumers interact and transact. Under Dan’s leadership, PayPal was named one of the top companies on JUST Capital’s and Forbes’ JUST 100 list and as a Fortune Change the World company for its work to tackle the biggest challenges facing society today.

Dan has been recognized as one of Fortune’s top 20 Businesspersons of the Year and he is the recipient of the 2017 Brennan Legacy Award, given in recognition of his contributions to social justice. Prior to PayPal, Dan served in leadership roles at American Express, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Priceline Group, and AT&T. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Steering Committee to promote global financial inclusion. Dan earned a BA from Middlebury College and an MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He is also an avid mixed martial arts practitioner.

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy. Under his leadership, the Ford Foundation recently became the first nonprofit foundation in US history to issue a $1 billion social bond in the US taxable bond market to increase grant making to stabilize and strengthen nonprofit organizations in the wake of COVID-19. He is a member of Governor Cuomo’s Reimagining New York Commission and co-chair of NYC Census 2020. He also chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy.

Before joining Ford, Darren was vice president at Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs. In the 1990s, he was COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem’s largest community development organization.

Darren co-chairs New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and has served on the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and the UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He co-founded both the US Impact Investing Alliance and the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. He serves on many boards, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, Carnegie Hall, the High Line, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. In the summer of 2020, he was appointed to the boards of Square and Ralph Lauren. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is 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 Head Start class in 1965 and received BA, BS, and JD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. He has been included on numerous leadership lists: Time’s annual 100 Most Influential People, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Ebony‘s Power 100, and Out magazine’s Power 50.