Breaking Ground on Healing Grounds

Alum poses in front of new cafe she plans to open in Buffalo
Non-Profit Management alum brings new cafe to Buffalo, in hopes of connecting with community and collectively healing.

Hy-Deia Walker
MPA, Non-Profit Management

Hometown: Rochester, NY

How and why did you decide to apply for SUNY Brockport MPA program?

“After my undergraduate graduation I made the decision of getting in the workforce to give me a sense of serious direction about my career path. I initially aspired to be a journalist, but over time I realized I just didn’t have the passion for it anymore or the drive for its extraneous scheduling. I knew that whatever I ended up doing my end goal was to help my community. After a brief career at a non-profit organization doing development work, I realized this was the path for me. I later started at a larger non-profit that offered lots of growing opportunity; I decided it was time for me to further my education and learn more about non-profits through experience and adequate study. I had been looking around at different programs in this region and when I compared the pros and cons, Brockport offered more pros–including flexibility, affordability, and its downtown location made it even better. I applied, met with Dr. Wright and a few weeks later got my acceptance letter! Best decision I have ever made!”

What have you enjoyed most about the program so far?

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the professors and my peers. I have been able to make great connections with people who share the same interests and mission as myself and its awesome. The professors make themselves easily accessible and you can tell that they have your best interests at heart. The culture of the program breeds success… it sets you up with all of the opportunities needed which in return has given me total confidence in my education.”

What are your future goals?

“Initially, I had goals of creating my own non-profit organization that catered specifically to the youth of the inner-city of Rochester. I feel morally responsible for this demographic because I am them and I understand the challenges and depth of work that needs to be done in order to break the cycle of poverty and lack of education/educational resources. Now, after being in school and working for a nonprofit I’ve come to realize that there are already “too many” nonprofits with this mission that could instead be revamped. I aspire to be a hybrid of some sort, possessing the qualities of both a “charismatic leader” and a “transformational leader”. My goal is to be a CEO, not for the title but for the position it would put me in – of being able to make legitimate change through true leadership. Another route I’ve considered taking is eventually running for Mayor of Rochester, NY. I guess I will see where I end up. I still have a lot of work to do, but I am prepared!”

The Healing Grounds

Hy-Deia has since moved to Buffalo, and has brought her same passion for transformational leadership to the community she lives in. She and her business partner, Dan White, have spent the past nine months bringing their vision for a community healing grounds to fruition. They hope to open The Healing Grounds Cafe, as well as The Healing Grounds Sanctuary (a few doors down), by the end of the year. 

“We live in this neighborhood, and we are rooted in the community. We hope to be a part of transforming this entire block into a vibrant hub for holistic living. We want to bring new options to Buffalo, with intention, cultivation, and revitalization. Corporate America is killing the spirit, and can make people physically sick. This is what is triggering this new journey.” 

Read more about Hy-Deia’s journey to open the The Healing Grounds Cafe, in Buffalo Rising. 

Back to Brockport Today


Posted: August 15, 2022