What Business Does the President of the Far-Left Ford Foundation Have Serving as a Director of PepsiCo?

Free Enterprise Project Questions Controversial Board Member at PepsiCo’s Annual Shareholder Meeting

New Bern, N.C. / Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual meeting of PepsiCo investors, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) – the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism – questioned the beverage giant’s CEO, Indra Nooyi, about the company’s controversial decision to place Ford Foundation President Darren Walker on its board of directors.

Justin Danhof, Esq.

“It is unlikely that many PepsiCo investors were aware of Walker’s background and the extreme anti-capitalist work of the Ford Foundation. Today served as an educational opportunity for us,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s meeting held in the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola – New Bern, North Carolina – and questioned Nooyi. “The Ford Foundation grants money to some of the most disruptive forces in American society. It’s hard to see how Walker’s background in funding liberal extremism benefits PepsiCo or its investors.”

At the meeting, Danhof pointed out some of the more controversial groups receiving Ford Foundation grants. He noted:

[I]n 2017, the Ford Foundation gave the racial-focused group Color of Change $8.7 million. Color of Change is one of the groups that coordinated the attacks on PepsiCo and other members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). If a company refused to leave ALEC, Color of Change threatened to air radio ads in the hometowns of all of their board members, blaming them for the death of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin. That’s because ALEC had worked on “stand your ground” legislation. While ALEC had nothing to do with the Florida law in question regarding Martin’s death, facts didn’t seem to matter to Color of Change. This was racial extortion to score political gain. If this were happening today, Color of Change may well be threatening to air ads in Mr. Walker’s hometown – all but accusing him of being a racist. That’s rich.

The Ford Foundation also gives millions of dollars to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This group’s extremist environmental agenda, including work to eliminate plastics and pushing extra costs onto corporations, would likely see the removal of much of Pepsi’s packaging if successful. This would dramatically increase the price of company goods, thereby diminishing sales and shareholder value.

Danhof then asked:

I encourage my fellow investors to take a look at the full roster of radical leftist causes sponsored by the Ford Foundation and ask yourself this: how do any of these causes improve society or America’s business environment? And Ms. Nooyi, what do Pepsi shareholders gain from Mr. Walker’s expertise in supporting racially-motivated groups that have falsely attacked corporations with extortion tactics and the funding of radical environmental special interests?

Danhof’s full question, as prepared for delivery, is available  here.

A video of Danhof’s exchange with Nooyi is available on YouTube.

“Nooyi indicated that what one person considers radical is what another considers to be right. It is hard to see any reasonable businessman considering racial extortion designed to defund free-market policy groups as being reasonable or right,” said Danhof. “If Walker has such strong business acumen that he is helping PepsiCo increase its return on investment, it must be an extremely well-guarded secret. Walker presently serves on no other boards of publicly-traded companies. Nor has he served on any other board in the last five years.”

Brad's Drink aka Pepsi

The historical sign in New Bern, NC commemorating the origin of Pepsi

“Nooyi also indicated that Walker’s global perspective is valuable to PepsiCo,” noted Danhof. “If his global perspective is anything like the Ford Foundation’s apparent disdain for American exceptionalism, I would question his judgment and that of PepsiCo.”

Today’s meeting is the 15th FEP has participated in during the 2018 shareholder season.

Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.

FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

Danhof’s latest commentary, on the recent Walt Disney shareholder meeting where his actions resulted in Joy Behar’s public apology for suggesting Christianity is a mental illness, is available here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.