Posted on Monday, January 30, 2023
Where are our alumni award recipients now?
Whether he's on the ground making education possible for the 130+ students and their families at his new school in Brazil, or managing $150 million in assets for 300 families at his boutique money manager, Ted Kerr '93, past young alumni award recipient and CEO of Touchstone Capital Inc., takes us on a journey of success through a lens of humility and passion in his Q&A.
Tell me about your life since graduation from Westminster.
After spending a year as a Leadership Consultant working for the Phi Kappa Tau National Fraternity, I quickly entered the financial services industry in 1994 as a financial advisor with Hefren-Tillotson, Inc. (now a Baird company). I earned various promotions there before leaving in May 2000 to found Touchstone Capital, Inc. We have enjoyed solid organic growth throughout our 22 years, having once been named as the fastest growing financial services firm in the region by the Pittsburgh Business Times (2012). As a boutique money manager, we now manage about $150 million in assets for 300 families in over 20 states. During this time, my faith in Jesus Christ continued to grow, leading me to go to seminary at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA, in 2010. I became an ordained pastor-priest in 2014 and was consecrated a bishop in my denomination in 2022. My formal education and ordination to ministry equipped me to serve in various volunteer positions, including as Executive Director of The Pittsburgh Experiment and as interim pastor for 18 months to one of the oldest churches in Western Pennsylvania. I founded Touchstone Cares, a 501(c)3 organization, to fund our growing charitable work here and around the world. My wife, Patty Reis Kerr, and I founded an elementary school that we own and operate in Brazil that serves about 130 students and their families. We are currently building a second elementary school and plan on constructing a middle-high school in 2024. We envision a school system that will eventually serve over 1,000 students in grades K-12. Our ultimate vision is to found a missionary training center that will serve as the capstone of education for some of our students who feel called by God to serve in the world.
What do you find most satisfying about your career and where it takes you?
One of my greatest honors is serving our clients, some of whom have trusted me and my team for nearly 30 years of managing their multi-generational wealth. They are more than clients, they are dear friends and partners in life and business. I jokingly say that I live vicariously through my clients—their success is our success. Seeing them enjoy the fruits of their hard work, financial discipline, and wise stewardship is extremely gratifying to us.
What did you do to get where you are today?
Certainly, choosing to be an entrepreneur and starting my own business is one of the most important decisions of my life. Taking the risk and enduring the ups and downs in the life of a business has been challenging, but in the end it has brought some amazing rewards.
What's been your greatest moment of accomplishment that you can recall?
My greatest accomplishment is probably opening our new school in Brazil in 2022. I cherish the opportunity to transform the lives of 130 children and their families, a staff of almost 30, and the surrounding community.
What was a defining moment during your time as a Westminster student (a moment that stands out to you as one that you realize that Westminster was the right decision in your educational path)?
One of my early defining moments at Westminster was standing in the locker room listening to future Titan Sports Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Micchia, give a motivational speech before a Titan football game. It was such an exciting honor to be part of a long tradition of team-based excellence. The values I learned as a Titan student-athlete have served me well throughout my life and career.
How has the Westminster experience aided in your success and how you conduct your life?
I literally can’t imagine where I would be today without the impact of Westminster College: the formal education and learning, the training and experience in leadership as president of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, the values and discipline of being a student athlete on a national championship-level organization, and the lifelong friendships that I’ve made. In short, Westminster’s impact on my life was a result of the total package I received—what many refer to formally as the liberal arts.
How does it feel to have been recognized by Westminster College's Alumni Association as an Alumni Award recipient in the past? How has it left a lasting impact?
I live life by a few rules, and one of them is this: always make your future bigger than your past. As such, the award recognition I received from the Alumni Association was a wonderful milestone and encouragement in that moment. But I also saw it as an invitation to continue to grow, learn and make even bigger contributions in the future to those I am called to serve in business and life. In short, a Westminster education is not simply a four-year degree. It is a lifelong experience filled with never-ending growth.
Kerr was a Business Administration major focused on Finance at Westminster College. He received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award after graduating. To learn more about Westminster College's Alumni Award program, and to nominate someone you know, visit here.