Getting personal with … Walker & Dunlop’s Willy Walker

Willy Walker with his three sons.

Willy Walker with his three sons.

by Dan Rafter

Willy Walker is the chairman and chief executive officer of commercial finance company Walker & Dunlop. He spends a lot of time at work. But not all of his time. So what does Walker do when he’s not steering Walker & Dunlop? That’s what Midwest Real Estate News wanted to find out.

Walker lives in Washington D.C., so he has plenty of options for spending his free time. And like all parents? He’s not above shuttling his children from one sporting event to the next.

Here’s a peek, from Walker’s own perspective, on his busy non-working hours.

Family man: I spend a lot of time with my kids. I have three boys – 12, 10 and 8 — who are all very athletic. I am basically an Uber driver for them on the weekends. I’m always heading out to soccer fields and ice rinks around the greater D.C. area.

Staying fit: The other thing that takes up a lot of my time outside the office is exercise. I spend a lot of time on my bike, in swimming pools and with my running shoes on. And I usually do this early in the morning, before starting work. Today, I woke up before 5 in the morning. Then from 5:30 until 6:45 I biked to and around Hains Point (a popular park space along the Potomac River in D.C.). Then I scooted back to the office in time for our earnings call at 8:30. That is not an atypical morning for me.

Walker with NBA legend Bill Walton.

Walker with NBA legend Bill Walton.

The non-profit life: I spend a lot of time on non-profit boards. I call that one of my hobbies. It takes a heck of a lot of personal time. I was chairman of the board of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, DC Water. That was a type of full-time job on its own. But it is great to be plugged into the community. I currently sit on the board of my boys’ school in Washington, St. Albans. That takes a lot of time, too. And to some degree, because we do live in D.C., I spend a bunch of time with people who are in the political loop, whether reporters or actual elected politicians or people who work in the White House in appointed positions. I love that whole political world. We don’t work in that world, but we do get to observe it being residents of D.C. I have friendships with people on both sides of the aisle in all facets of government. Whether it’s having dinner or a drink or going to a speech at the Brookings Institution about U.S.-China relations, I find the political world to be a fascinating one.

Missing out? Of the 170 people in our office here in Bethesda, I can almost guarantee you that 50 percent have never gone up in the Washington Monument. My point being, a lot of people who live here don’t spend time going to the sites or appreciating D.C. for what it is. You see the monument every time you fly into the city. It’s easy to take it for granted.

The art of biking: There are a bunch of bike rides that I’ve done 1,000 times. There are these sort-of loops you can ride out of the D.C. area. Once every 30 rides or so, I’ll want to do the longest loop you can do. I love it. I know where all the potholes are on that loop. I love riding, too, to Hains Point on the Potomac River. It’s sort of a training mecca for D.C. You show up there any morning at 6 a.m. and it is full of people riding and running. It’s the greatest gift that the city can give. The day that they try to redevelop that into something else will be a real loss to the city. It really is a wonderful place.

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