Walter Reyes was raised in Long Island, New York, the son of a pair of ministers. Every morning, his parents reminded him that his goal for the day was to “be a blessing to others.” He explains, ‘From a young age my siblings and I knew our purpose was to help other people, we just didn’t know how we would yet.” Walter is proud that he and his siblings all found social impact careers. While his siblings are educators and health service professionals, they describe him as the “charity guy.” So it’s perhaps not a great surprise that Walter established himself as a nonprofit professional and found his way to Taproot. Lucky us!
As he puts it, “At the end of the day I think I know my purpose is to help others. As a Human Resource professional, I help people find their purpose, discover their career track, and get to the root of why they are here.” Walter was first introduced to HR in 2001 when Goodwill of Greater New York was looking for a Director of Learning and Development. It was a brand new role for the organization, and an opportunity for Walter to go in, start something new, and create a career track for himself. He explains that in many ways, he fell into the role at Goodwill and ended up spending 11 years there.
In 2011, Walter was introduced to Taproot and has completed two Service Grant projects to date, although we know this is just the beginning for him. While Walter inspires the nonprofits he’s worked with, we are happy to report that he too has been inspired by his pro bono engagements.
At the end of the day, I think I know my purpose is to help others.
“The defining moment for me is when I look at the HR discipline and the capacity and infrastructure that the larger for profit companies have, and realize that these are tools a nonprofit may never see. Being able to provide nonprofits with the resources to start doing some things differently and use more cost efficient tools is incredible.” He goes on to say, “It’s one thing to sit on a Board and offer the Executive Director some advice and strategy, but when you’re in the trenches of a Marketing, IT, or HR department, you’re really seeing the grit. It makes it much more tangible.”
Taproot’s New York Program Manager, Allie Hallock, sends rave reviews on Walter’s leadership and commitment to pro bono. “Walter has managed two Service Grants with Taproot and during both, his strong sense of leadership was clear to everyone involved.” Allie continued by explaining, “He has a way of keeping everyone engaged, motivated, and focused – all with a smile on his face! People can trust and relate to Walter, and that’s what makes him so effective at what he does.”
Being able to provide nonprofits with the resources to start doing things differently and use more cost-efficient tools is incredible.
When talking to Walter about what it’s like to work on a Taproot project, he responds, “I have been able to lead a team of professionals who want to do this work. The pro bono consultant team was phenomenal and comprised an extremely diverse group of individuals with varying skill sets and experiences. This was something new to me and I couldn’t leave it, so when I was tapped for a 2nd project, I said no problem!” The only question we have left for Walter is, “Are you ready for your 3rd project?”
Beyond his role at Taproot, Walter is Vice President, HR, Talent Management, and Chief Administrative Officer at Abyssinian Development Corporation, a nonprofit community development corporation. When asked about his long-term goals, Walter passionately expressed his aspiration to be the Executive Director of a nonprofit. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Walter and look forward to reporting on his bright pro bono future!
Jessica Hammerman is a Research & Communications Fellow at Taproot Foundation in New York City.