As he drives to his office at M&T Bank each day, Brian Walter often finds himself suddenly smiling. “I am thinking of how fortunate I am to live and work in the same community,” he reflected.
Recently promoted to the position of market president for the Chesapeake region at M&T Bank, Walter said his career growth has paralleled the growth of M&T Bank in the region. In turn, Walter believes his love for his community directly relates to his effectiveness on the job.
“My personal, business and community life align together,” he said. “It all dovetails.”
Walter, who graduated from Leadership Howard County (LHC) in 2001 after moving to Howard County in 1999, believes most LHC graduates view their personal, business and community lives much the way he does.
While going through the LHC program, Walter was fascinated by what he saw as the level of cooperation and coordination that exists between the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. “Leadership Howard County is right at the center of that,” he said. “It draws people from all the different sectors together.”
It’s true that people who enroll in LHC are looking for career advancement, he said, but he also believes they’re just as motivated by a quest for personal growth. “They want to be able to give back,” he said.
Walter still remains in close contact with several of his LHC classmates. “For me, lifelong relationships came out of that program,” he said.
As he navigated through LHC with his classmates, Walter said he remembers realizing that the perception of Howard County as an affluent community doesn’t mean that there aren’t people with unmet needs.
“You sort of dig in and realize that, even in Howard County, there are lots of people who are hurting and lots of people who have needs, or are disadvantaged in some way,” he said.
Learning about the people and organizations that help others was a highlight of his LHC participation, Walters added. “It was very, very eye-opening to realize the network that was out there. That had a real impact on me.”
Whether on the job or out in the community, Walter said he remains amazed at the number of talented people who live in Howard County. “Howard County is clearly home to some incredibly bright individuals.”
Walter said he feels very passionately about the way he approaches both his job and his community. “First and foremost, I want to do the right thing,” he said. “When I’m interacting with businesses and business owners, I have a long-term perspective in that relationship.”
Deference and Fairness
Paul Skalny, managing director of the law firm Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny LLC, served as a member of the executive committee of Leadership Howard County with Walter. “Brian is a quiet, yet powerful, leader amongst leaders,” said Skalny.
“I have personally observed the respect he commands through carefully articulated analysis of an issue or problem; similarly, he consistently displays unsurpassed courtesy, deference and fairness toward his peers, always careful to acknowledge differing points of view.”
Walter currently serves as chair of the LHC board of directors, and he has continued to help shape the program. He and other LHC board members share a vision in which LHC is a critical force in preparing, inspiring, connecting and sustaining community leaders to make Howard County the best place to live, work and play. Walter said he believes that LHC can remain at the center of what makes Howard County such a special community.
Walter is also vice chair of the trustees for The Columbia Foundation, and M&T Bank was the presenting sponsor for The Columbia Foundation’s Annual Spring Party and Annual Dinner, the first time the foundation has had a presenting sponsor for either event.
Those who work with Walter in the various aspects of his life regard him as a skilled leader. “Brian is tremendous leader,” said Paul Gleichauf, senior vice president for planning and marketing for Howard County General Hospital.
“He leads by example. He is respectful, thoughtful and open-minded. With these qualities he is able to draw the best of out each person on his team, and help them to coalesce around a common vision. His calm confidence inspires others to follow. Finally, he personifies the servant leader. He leads for a higher purpose.”
Gleichauf said Walter’s work leading the LHC board through its strategic planning process in 2010 was nothing short of visionary and inspiring for the organization and the community that it serves.
“Those same qualities make every organization with which he is connected, including M&T Bank, the [Howard County] Arts Council, The Columbia Foundation, stronger, more focused and more successful,” said Gleichauf.