Charles Walton ‘77 named executive director of 100 Black Men of Chicago
Charles Walton didn’t dither when Ray Best and Fred Beile offered a scholarship to Doane University back in 1973.
The Tiger football coach, and legendary late track and field coach, had a good student and a defensive back and long jumper sold on Doane.
“I was headed to Crete and I was going to stay and make the best of it,” said Walton, who graduated from South Shore High School in Chicago then completed his degree in math at Doane in 1977. “Coach Beile even helped me learn how to triple jump (personal best of 49 feet) and there was an immediate bond and it’s still there.
“The last time I was on campus, with some friends from Chicago, we were walking through the Perry Center – all new and pretty nice these days – and a man sitting in a booth talking with another man got up when I walked by,” Walton said.
“He introduced himself, Phil Heckman, and for the next 30 minutes he talked to me like I had never left campus. That’s the kind of people who make a difference in your life at Doane,” Walton said.
Now, Walton is trying to make a difference in the Chicagoland area. He is the newest executive director of the organization 100 Black Men of Chicago.
The nearly 60-year-old organization that has chapters nationwide connects business leaders and other adult volunteers with African-American males, ages 13-18, to provide mentoring, education, health and wellness and economic empowerment.
“I did the financial thing,” said Walton, who majored in math and minored in business administration at Doane and earned his MBA at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
He worked with Illinois Bell, Amaco, United Airlines and other companies for more than 30 years in information technology before moving into the non-profit management slot. He worked in Chicago, London and Washington D.C. and returned to Chicago and now lives in Crowne Point, Ind.
“Getting a job out of college was pretty quick because here I was a math guy, taught by Dr. Mildred Gross and others, and a business admin background and became a kind of technocrat,” said Walton.
But there came a time to pivot, to change his work and become a non-profit director with carious organizations.
The influence of his mom, June, a former school teacher and his late father, Richard, who worked with the Chicago Park District, instilled in Charles the belief in civic engagement from his early years.
He was named the executive director of the 100 Black Men of Chicago last fall and now runs the organization that works with up to 125,000 kids in team mentoring and networking with kids and professionals.
Walton still runs Synergy Management Association and was the former chief executive officer of Trinity Higher Education.
“I’m able to use my business connections and my experience to develop strategies for our goals at the 100 BMC,” he said. Making corporate connections, working with civic leaders and fund-raising are all a part of his work now.
Through the pandemic, much of the mentoring is completed virtually. Holiday toy drives, health and wellness expos and college fairs are still available, as always, but greater efforts have been required since personal contact is limited until COVID-19 is brought under control.
Benefactors are kept in touch through various functions and mentors are working hard to reach as many African-American kids as they can, he said.
The organization has offered a nine-week series in health and wellness, financial wellness and becoming a family man. 100 BMC of Chicago has also raised more than $60 million in scholarship connections for the kids making the bridge from childhood to adulthood.
“Our goals of improving the quality of life, enhancing the educational opportunities and economic opportunities for African-American males are important,” Walton said.
There is no more running and jumping, tennis or basketball with friends – “Too many laps on that floor in the Fuhrer Fieldhouse and too many basketball games and I don’t have the Knees any more. But I do golf. I’ve had a chance to play some of the best courses in the world and my home office looks out at the 15th hole at the local course,” Walton said. “I can’t wait for warm weather.”