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Heather Reynolds

It’s early — 7:15am — but you’d never know by the tempo of Heather Reynolds’ voice. The Fort Worth mom is already at the office, settling in to another day of fighting poverty at Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW). 
The 37-year-old Ohio native started at the organization as an intern, working her way up the ranks to president and CEO in a record three years. She was only 25 when she took the helm of the $27 million nonprofit, which is dedicated to ending poverty in Fort Worth one family at a time. 
In 2014, Reynolds was invited to Capitol Hill by Rep. Paul Ryan to provide testimony on poverty reform. That same year, during the border crisis, she led efforts to double the number of beds at CCFW, garnering attention on a national level. 
Changing the world is no small feat, but Reynolds is doing her part, all while raising a family of her own. On November 6, 2012, Reynolds and her husband of 14 years, John, owner of video production company Midland Creative, adopted their 5-year-old daughter Olive, who was 10 months old at the time, from Taiwan. Each year the family celebrates the day Olive came home — dubbed their “gotcha day” — with dinner and dessert. 
“I’m so thankful Olive is my daughter, but the fact that in someone else’s poverty I became a mom is a really humbling reality,” Reynolds says. 
What brought you to Fort Worth?
I came to get my bachelor’s degree in social work at Texas Christian University and fell in love with the town. 
How did you meet John?
We’ve known each other since we were 14 years old. We’ve been dating since we were 17. He came with me to Fort Worth. 
What led you to choose adoption? 
Even when we were young, my husband and I always talked about wanting to adopt. We just knew it was something in our future. When we decided we were ready to start a family, things didn’t biologically work out for us so we started exploring options. 
What surprised you most about motherhood? 
I didn’t realize the joy that would come with it. Seeing her little mind explode and learn is the most rewarding thing ever. 
Are there plans to grow the family?
We’re open to whatever God has in store. But our work is very important to us, and my husband and I are very important to each other, and Olive is very important. I think we’re good, but if something happened, we’d be open to it. 
How did becoming parents evolve your marriage?
You start feeling your age when you have a child in your late 30s. But I could not be more pleased with the sequence within which we did things. I can’t imagine being a mom without having the foundation that John and I have been able to build. 
What’s your parenting style? 
There are some things I’m really intense about — the word “bored” is not allowed in our house — and other things I’m laid-back about. All in all, she’s just my little buddy. 
Are you raising her to be multicultural? Is it important to you that she understands where she comes from?
We had a chance to meet her birth mom and extended family, so we created a book about her journey to Texas with pictures of her birth mother and the foster mother she lived with. She loves that book. It’s been neat to see her own her history. 
How did you land at Catholic Charities?
When I was getting my master’s degree in social work at University of Texas at Arlington, I started interning and loved the organization. But I didn’t like what I was doing, working as a therapist. One of my greatest weaknesses is that I have no patience. Being a therapist without patience is like being a fish without water. The organization felt like they could use me in other ways, so I moved into more administrative functions. In 2004, the CEO at the time approached me because she’d been diagnosed with a fatal liver condition. She asked if I would succeed her. I had no ambitions to be a CEO. I just wanted to help change lives. But she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. 
What’s your desire to help others rooted in?
I didn’t grow up in poverty, but my parents were fantastic about making sure I understood not everyone had it as good as me. That experience, volunteerism, and my faith made me super passionate about this work. 
What do you wish more people understood about poverty?
People think it’s a homeless man on the side of the street, and while that is an example of poverty, the majority of those in poverty are the working poor. Seventy-three percent of people who walk through our doors are working. 
How do you balance a demanding career with being a mom?
When I figure it out, I’ll let you know. There’s been a lot of reprioritizing my life. I hate to say no, but I’ve had to get a lot better at that over the last few years. 
How do you like to take time for yourself?
I love a cup of coffee and a quiet, slow morning. And we love to travel as a family. We love taking cruises. 
How do you and John stay connected? 
Date night has always been important to us. We made a commitment earlier this year to carve out time for us every day — even if it’s 30 minutes to play a game together or have a cup of coffee and talk. 
Where are your favorite spots to go around Fort Worth?
We like to walk up to Snappy Salads [in the Village at Camp Bowie] and Mi Cocula. 
Describe your version of the perfect day.
Generally speaking, my perfect day is feeling really satisfied that I made a difference. It includes time with John and just being with Olive. 
Do you have a motto that you live by?
One of my favorite quotes describes how I feel a lot: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.” 
What question are you asked the most?
Where do you get your energy? 
So where do you get energy? 
I drink a lot of coffee! For Christmas, my mom and dad got me an espresso machine — life-changing. 
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be that things are different, that things are better. As a mom and a wife, I want Olive and John to feel like, because I’ve been a part of their life, things have been different for them in a positive way.