We are profiling just some of the Regions associates who give so much of their spare time giving back to their communities in our Evergreen Volunteers series. We hope these stories will inspire others to reach out and make a difference.
By day, Graham Ralston serves as the market executive and commercial banking leader for Regions in New Orleans. It’s a demanding job.
Yet on weeknights, weekdays, and lots of weekends – any moment in between he finds a free hour – Ralston focuses his time on helping others. A lot of others, in a lot of different ways.
Ralston is invested in seven nonprofit organizations in the Big Easy, either serving on the board or as an active member, embodying the drive behind volunteerism.
“Finding what you are personally interested in makes a difference,” Ralston shared. “It is easy to commit time to things you love and care about.”
Finding what you are personally interested in makes a
difference. It is easy to commit time to things you love
and care about.
Graham Ralston, commercial banking leader for Regions, New Orleans
Among his current volunteer commitments, Ralston leverages his financial background in roles with Business Council of Greater New Orleans, GNO, Inc., the Bureau of Governmental Research, the NO/LA Angel Network and the Regional Loan Corporation. These organizations benefit from Ralston’s expertise as they seek to address impacts to the community such as COVID-19, hurricane relief and bolstering the local economy.
In his role with the Business Council, Ralston lends his financial eye to analyzing the city’s budget process. One of the biggest efforts with GNO, Inc. is recruiting businesses to New Orleans as it continues to grow.
“Many of these organizations serve complementary roles in New Orleans as they support the growth and prosperity of the city,” Ralston said. “I’m honored to have a seat at the table for these critical conversations as we seek to help our community, whether it’s the recovery from intense weather events or from the toll of an ongoing global pandemic.”
Since the advent of the pandemic, much of Ralston’s volunteer work has been virtual. But, he noted, getting involved is as good for business as it is for the community. Taking a seat at the table provides networking opportunities for volunteers that go beyond the usual social networking events. And the payoff is more personal – seeing real-life examples of your work and mission helping make communities stronger.
In addition to his work with the business and civic-focused organizations, Ralston lends his talents and time to the University of Holy Cross and Academy of the Sacred Heart, serving on the finance committees of both academic organizations. The latter holds a special place in Ralston’s family as many of the most important women in his life attended the all-girls school in New Orleans. Additionally, his two daughters are current students.
Ralston’s volunteer work goes back nearly two decades and includes an unexpected seven-year stint on the board of The Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. It was this exposure to the arts that deepened his understanding and appreciation of the culture in this vibrant community focused on visual and performance arts.
“If you get involved with an organization, commit and get engaged,” Ralston suggested. “Spend time understanding what makes the organization tick, meet the staff and find out what drives them and the organization. Making internal connections, you can be a much more active board member and really make a difference.”
As a leader, he is engaged and so plugged into our community in ways that align with Regions’ community commitment and focus in New Orleans.”
Mike Scott, PRC Community Affairs leader
In another long-term role, Graham spent more than eight years on the board of the Preservation Resource Center (PRC), an organization focused on preserving historic architecture and neighborhoods in New Orleans. Serving as both treasurer and president during his time with PRC, Ralston and Community Affairs leader Mike Scott often joined Regions’ associates for volunteer rebuilding projects as part of the organization’s affiliate, Rebuilding Together (now a separate entity).
Rebuilding Together works to provide home improvement and renovation services to low-income and elderly residents throughout New Orleans. Regions has provided support in financial contributions and during the fall rebuilds for many years. Local associates have come together for renovation projects as part of the “What a Difference a Day Makes” initiative. The team hopes to bring this fall project back this year and are monitoring COVID numbers in consideration of the safety and wellness of the associates and homeowners.
“Graham is a great example of a market executive that is thoroughly involved in his community,” Scott said. “As a leader, he is engaged and so plugged into our community in ways that align with Regions’ community commitment and focus in New Orleans.”