RSVP Montgomery

Rhonda Walker: A Champion of Change

MAY/JUNE 2018

Angela Hardgrave

Ronda Walker, vice chairman of the Montgomery County Commission, has had a desire to make her community a better place since before she could even vote. She is currently running for a seat in the Alabama State Senate, which is the culmination of a fulfilling but sometimes challenging journey for Walker. Through it all, however, her goal is clear—to serve the people of the River Region and see their lives changed for good.


Walker’s quest to effect change in her community began at an early age. “When I was sixteen, an intersection in my neighborhood had a dangerous blind curve. There was only a yield sign, but I thought it needed to be a stop sign. I called my city councilman and explained to him how unsafe I believed that intersection to be. He listened to my concerns and took my call seriously. That impressed me,” said Walker. “He sent a survey crew to study the intersection and agreed with me that the sign needed to be changed. The first time I approached that intersection and saw the stop sign I was overwhelmed. It was a profound moment. My advocacy worked. I saw a problem, reached out to a local leader and suggested a solution. That showed me at a young age how our government can and should work. Our leaders need to listen to us, but we have to reach out to them. That experience sparked my passion for public service and in part led to my decision to run for state senate.”


That passion for public service grew steadily over the years, but along with her many victories also came life-changing challenges that helped shape Walker into the person she is now. “My life was picture perfect until I was 38 years old. I was married to an amazing man and had four wonderful children. Then my mother was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and died three months later. My world was shattered, and I struggled to overcome my grief,” Walker said. “A few years later, I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. I was crushed by the weight of the fear that encompassed my mind and body. One day I found myself lying flat out on my living room floor begging God to spare my life—not for me but for my family. He turned my fearful cries into an intense vision. My purpose on earth is to glorify God and to help others. While I am on this earth, I will pour into my children and marriage and serve my community more intentionally. We all have a story. Life never turns out how you expected it would. The sooner we can surrender our expectations and live the life we are given the more joyous this experience will be.”


Throughout Walker’s journey, she has had an amazing support system in place. She said, “My husband, Jason, and our children have been my biggest supporters. This is my first-ever campaign, and without their support, I would not have gotten into this race. I’ve embraced the campaign as an adventure and a remarkable educational opportunity for my children. They have gotten into the competitive aspect of the campaign – they want to win! In fact, my nine-year-old daughter Margaret came to me early on and was very enthusiastic. She decided the way to win is to give everyone who agrees to vote Ronda Walker a Krispy Kreme doughnut! One day as I was about to do a news interview, Margaret grabbed my hand and said, ‘Don’t forget to tell them about the doughnuts!’”

 

Walker continued, “My family has also embraced the meet and greets, parades and going door to door. We’ve nicknamed our campaign shirts our “Saturday shirts” because we wear them door to door and on errands every Saturday. Our oldest, Hugh, used part of his spring break to take part in a campaign family photo shoot on a farm in Elmore County. It turned out to be a beautiful day of building family memories. My husband is amazing, and he wears a number of hats for the campaign, he knows just what to say to encourage me and keep me motivated, but he is also an invaluable help in building relationships with people.”


In Walker’s current position on the County Commission, she has the opportunity to learn about many of the River Region nonprofits, and she has seen firsthand how so many people in our area give of themselves to help others. “We have extraordinary volunteers helping our senior population, the homeless, single mothers, children living in poverty and those diagnosed with illness. I’m often able to connect people with the services they need. I also have the responsibility of managing the county budget and spending taxpayer dollars. That is something I don’t take lightly. I study each decision and always endeavor to make the most prudent choices with spending and saving,” said Walker. “As a public servant, my job is to be accessible, be available and be helpful. I’ve done that for the county, and I’ll do that for the state. I love Alabama and am thankful to be raising my family here, but I believe Alabama can do better. We need better jobs, a stronger education system, and a state government that doesn’t embarrass us every chance it gets. I believe I can work to provide a better Alabama.”


Named River Region Living Citizen of the Year 2016, Ronda is a member of several community organizations, including the Montgomery Rotary Club, the River Region Troy University Alumni Club, the Maxwell Restoration Advisory Board, and the Capital City Republican Women. She also serves on the board of the Baptist East Medical Center and the East YMCA. Ronda was nominated for YMCA Man of the Year and was also a member of Leadership Montgomery Class XXXIII.  She and her husband Jason attend First Baptist Church and have four children: Margaret (9), Eli (10), Grant (17) and Hugh (19).  



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