Rooster Walk Inc. co-founder and Chief Operating Officer William Baptist has decided to leave the nonprofit company. He informed members of the board of directors of his decision earlier this month.
Baptist founded Rooster Walk alongside Executive Director Johnny Buck in 2009. Baptist and Buck created Rooster Walk in memory of childhood friends and Martinsville natives Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank, both of whom passed away while in their mid-20s.
“On behalf of everyone with Rooster Walk, we’d like to thank William for the 12-plus years he devoted to the company and its mission,” said Rusty Lacy, Rooster Walk Inc.’s board president. “William was and always will be a co-founder of Rooster Walk. Without him, the company and the festival wouldn’t exist as we know them today. His countless hours of work, plus his vision and imagination will leave an indelible mark. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to new pursuits.”
Rooster Walk Inc.’s mission is to promote music, art and education in its home of Martinsville-Henry County. The nonprofit donates a portion of revenue from its events to local and regional charities, most notably the Penn-Shank Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund for Martinsville High School students, and the Rooster Walk Music Instrument Program for band programs in MHC’s public schools. To date, Rooster Walk Inc. has raised more than $250,000 for these, and other, local and regional causes.
“William and I started Rooster Walk to honor our late friends, Edwin and Walker, in 2009. We had perhaps 400 patrons attend the first festival, and since that time, Rooster Walk has truly grown into something far bigger and broader than we ever could have imagined,” said Buck. “William’s intelligence and passion were always mainstays in the work he did, and huge factors in Rooster Walk’s growth and development over the years. We will miss him, but I know that he will be successful in whatever endeavors he pursues going forward, and I wish him well.”
A job search is underway to fill the roles Baptist held within Rooster Walk Inc.
The company’s keynote event, the twelfth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, will take place May 26-29, in Martinsville. In addition to four days of live music, the family-friendly RW12 will offer a wide variety of kids’ activities, craft beer, food, arts and numerous opportunities to enjoy Virginia’s great outdoors with kayak tours, bike rides, yoga, a disc golf course and beautiful on-site camping.