Get to Know... William “Bud” Whitehorn
"Rochester has a long way to go in achieving true diversity, equity and inclusion."
Earlier this year, William “Bud” Whitehorn was named the Rochester Community Liaison. The role was a new position as part of the non-profit organization Barbershop & Social Services, to help bridge the gap between the Black community and the Rochester Police Department. Shortly after taking on the role, Whitehorn, along with Pastor Andre Crockett Sr., formed the Community Engagement Response Team (C.E.R.T.) to address growing concerns about safety downtown, while creating a positive environment.
Whitehorn answered questions about his background and his new role.
Are you originally from the Rochester area? If not, what led you here?
I am originally from the south side of Chicago. I came to Rochester at the encouragement of my mother, as I had lost several friends to street violence and she wanted me to have an opportunity to be a good father and get my family away from the escalating crime in Chicago.
What do you like best about Rochester?
Rochester is a relatively safer environment and my children have better educational opportunities through the public school system here than I did in Chicago. I also love that Rochester is a growing city and there are great opportunities for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners!
What changes do you think still need to be made?
Rochester has a long way to go in achieving true diversity, equity and inclusion. The city has come a long way, but still has a long way to go in order to become a city that truly embraces, empowers, and represents all the cultures of its inhabitants.
You and Rochester Police Capt. Stilwell seem to have a great relationship. How did that come about?
Our relationship was actually formed years ago when I was a misguided young adult struggling to stay out of trouble. Even though we were on opposite sides of the law, at times, we gained a mutual respect for one another throughout our early encounters. We later reconnected while attending a community event about addressing the city's homeless problems.
We soon realized that we shared a common goal to do our part to help shape Rochester into a safer community and weren't afraid to get on the frontline to address disparities and disenfranchisement. We shared the same passion of committing to using a preventative, proactive, and solution based approach to tackle some tough issues rather than the punitive, reactive, and finger pointing approach that was traditionally used. Cpt. Stilwell has been instrumental in helping with the launching of the Community Liaison position and the continued work that C.E.R.T. has been fortunate to accomplish in this community.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what has been your greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
My greatest accomplishment is becoming a grandfather, in a society that told me that I wouldn't make it to my 18th birthday. My greatest challenge was my commitment to positive change. That included changing my thinking patterns focusing on who I wanted to be and not who I had been in the past.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I'm a naturally shy person. I've been an ordained deacon for five years. I live my life to be completely transparent and I don't harbor any regrets. I've always been mama's boy. I Iove children so much that I would have 100 of them if I could afford to.