Philanthropist of the Year: Jack N. Walsh III

Philanthropist of the Year: Jack N. Walsh III Image
John N. Walsh, III, known to many as Jack, first became involved with United Way of Buffalo & Erie County nearly 40 years ago. In that time, he has held numerous volunteer roles, including serving as a United Way Board Member, chairing the Search Committee that selected Bob Bennett as United Way President and continuing to serve as a member of the United Way Advisory Council, participating as an investments volunteer, and leading numerous fundraising efforts, including two terms as chair of the United Way Tocqueville campaign. 

Jack credits his family and upbringing for his strong sense of community. He recalls the hard work and sacrifice of his grandparents and parents to ensure their children all received a high quality education, while also instilling a philosophy of “the other guy first.” Within the family’s business, Walsh Duffield Companies, his father and uncle always operated under the premise that the organization has a responsibility to give back – not as a business tactic, but as an obligation of citizenship, a philosophy that continues to this day. He recalls his mother, a woman of great kindness and courage, as the connector and anchor of their extended family. And later, his wife, who he admired from the moment they first met, would become “a north star” for their family’s values.

Jack’s commitment to and influence on the Western New York community extends well beyond United Way. His impressive resume includes chairing a dozen nonprofit boards, numerous area annual giving or capital campaigns and having led or served on ten executive leader search committees. Jack is especially proud of his two decades of work on the Martin House capital campaign, which culminated in the successful restoration of this historic Frank Lloyd Wright site. He also finds great fulfillment as a volunteer with Read to Succeed, where he tutors and mentors first grade students in local classrooms. 

For Jack, being recognized as the United Way Tocqueville Society Philanthropist of the year is a surprising honor. “My life has been made easier by people whose shoulders I stood on, some really good people who were mentors. Wonderful volunteers and fabulous staff. All these people who toil in the trenches and don’t get the limelight.” Jack is grateful to the countless business executives, public officials and nonprofit leaders who have inspired, instructed and contributed to the success of his legacy of community service over the years. 

His hope is that this recognition will be used to call attention to the importance of encouraging all people, in their own way and within their own means, to get involved to help solve community problems:
“These are serious days … (and) you ought to ask yourself this question: is this society going to work if only those of us that can afford it are happy? And in my view it isn’t. 

We have a society that’s increasingly divided – economically as well as emotionally, and even philosophically, perhaps. But it isn’t automatic that you can easily survive in this world if you’re not a star. If you’re struggling to make your mortgage payment. If you’re struggling to keep your job. If you’re struggling to learn where your kids are going to get a quality education. If you’re worried about your healthcare program. If there isn’t equity in your access to healthcare. And one of the biggest referees in keeping a level playing field is United Way and the agencies that are part of United Way.”

As Chairman of Walsh Duffield, Jack Walsh represents the fifth generation of leadership for the organization. A graduate of Nichols School, Yale University, and Harvard Law School, Jack worked for Citibank in New York City and for Aetna Life and Casualty Company in Hartford before returning to Buffalo, NY in 1973 to join his father and uncle in the family business. A Western New York native, Jack currently resides in Buffalo. He and his beloved late wife Connie are proud parents of two adult children – a son, Blake, who also works at Walsh Duffield, and a daughter, Kyle, who is a nurse practitioner in the San Francisco area.