By: Kevin Slattery
Loretta Walker has a long history of involvement in the communities she has lived, as evidenced by her years of service with numerous charitable, civic, and cultural organizations. She is currently the Chair of the United Way Bay Area Board of Directors.
Walker’s support for UWBA is motivated by the camaraderie of her fellow board members. “We’re focused on the communities we are a part of and working alongside these leaders who are committed to making a difference, which really makes you want to do more,” said Walker. “This is what has motivated me to take a leadership role as board chair. We have so many role models on the board, and seeing how others are committed to the efforts keeps me going.”
Ms. Walker generously took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about events in her life that shaped her career, her outlook, and her philanthropy. Here are some of the insights she shared with us.
My moment came at a time when my mom developed Alzheimer’s disease. When she was diagnosed, the doctors said she had five years to live and she ended up living for 12 years. This was a different time, when they didn’t have medicine that helped slow down the Alzheimer’s process. It was quite an undertaking for my family as my aunt acted as her main caregiver, and we quickly found that we needed additional support. We were turned down by several organizations and then found an adult day care facility—that was a partner of United Way—that specialized in understanding the needs of Alzheimer’s patients and their family members. They helped me and my family cope. You never know when you might need additional help in life and this United Way partner was a true life-saver for my family, which is one of the reasons why I have supported United Way for so many years.
I’ve been very blessed in my life in regards to my health and the opportunities I’ve received. Not only have I been able to give back, but I also want to make the community a better place. When more members of the community are healthy and are able to sustain themselves, it makes life better for their neighbors. United Way is a natural partner for helping move families in the right direction. I would also say, if I didn’t have access to the right mentors as a young person, there is no telling where I would have ended up. I want to be that mentor for young people today and United Way offers these opportunities for me and my colleagues.
There is this novel idea to put SparkPoint Centers in the community where they’re actually needed. I’ve heard many great SparkPoint stories, including a young man who went into his local SparkPoint Center and received resources that resulted in him receiving an internship opportunity that helped drive the career he still has today. I also heard about a family where one member lost their job and they were able to receive the additional support they needed to get through a time of adversity.
Yes. I consider myself an UWBA advocate within AT&T. I regularly approach my peers, asking for their support of UWBA and believe it’s my job as board chair and a person who has benefited from the strong support from UW to provide my testimony for how the money raised will be used in positive ways. I also advocate for UWBA outside the workplace—when I hear of people who have additional resources to donate or need additional resources, I raise my hand and offer my experience with UWBA. As I shared with my mom’s story, me and my family are lifetime supporters of the organization. She was so well taken care of and we were too, in a time of real need. It’s just something that sticks with you!
Loretta Walker is Vice President of External Affairs, Employee Engagement & Communications at AT&T California. Ms. Walker heads the company’s local government and community affairs initiatives.
Managing a team of senior professionals, she is responsible for AT&T corporate sponsorships, policy and philanthropic initiatives.
Ms. Walker is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration – Marketing and received her Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Webster University. She is currently Chair of the United Way Bay Area Board of Directors.