Accomplished entrepreneur Ty Humes brings passion for educational causes to Del Mar Schools Education Foundation
By Kathy Day
When Ty Humes learned his young daughter would not be able to attend Ocean Air Elementary School, which was a couple of blocks from their home, he didn’t settle for “no.”
The Torrey Hills resident who grew up in the Bronx — a kid from the projects who was one of 10 black students among his Catholic school student body of 1,600 — isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. Today those challenges range from serving on the boards of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation and several other nonprofits to developing new companies blending the entertainment and technology industries.
You can tell by talking with him that he’s truly dedicated to “being all about the kids,” as he puts it when asked about interests outside his business and civic life.
Life is a little different for their two children than it was for him. When he took Emily and Joshua to their first Padres game recently, they sat three rows behind home plate. His own first Major League game was watching the Yankees from the bleacher seats.
Although they had discussed private schooling, Humes and his wife, Alice — a former Pfizer sales executive who’s now a stay-at-home mom and class mom — decided to send Emily to public school. They made the choice because the Del Mar school district has such a strong reputation, he said, adding that their daughter was really excited about going to school close to their home.
But then they learned that children from outside the neighborhood had been given priority because their schools were overcrowded.
That prompted him — and other parents — to attend a school board meeting and plead for reconsideration. His speech must have made an impact, since he quickly received a call from Ryan Stanley, Ocean Air’s principal, asking him to represent his school on the district’s Enrollment Committee to address the problem. They figured out how to make the system work for the kids, and Hume’s daughter and all but one of the other children in the neighborhood made it in via Ocean Air’s lottery. Joshua is two years away from kindergarten.
That marked the beginning of his role as a parent volunteer. This year, when he attended back-to-school night for his now-first grader, someone announced that they needed a representative for the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation. He raised his hand and after a subsequent interview was named to the foundation board. Now Humes is one of three officers, holding the title of vice president for marketing.
Humes’ generation is the first of his family to grow up in the North. His family’s roots are in the South. Some were slaves and his maternal great grandmother was a Cherokee, he noted.
His mother taught in public schools, he said, so she knew it was better to send him to a private school; his father, who died last Christmas Eve, worked for Revlon Corp. from his high school graduation to retirement as a union foreman in the maintenance and corporate landscaping division.
He speaks proudly of his heritage and is a self-described “American history junkie.”
As a man whose daughter is at a school which officially has “zero percent” African Americans according to its school accountability report, he knows he stands out. That’s happened before.
He smiled broadly as he talked about his high school athletic endeavors.
“I played basketball and baseball — and (ice) hockey,” he said, adding that he was recruited by a neighbor who was from Toronto. At 6-foot-6, he stood out there, too, in the days before hockey players were built like NFL players, he said.
Humes graduated from Syracuse University, with dual majors in economics and political science and kept up his multi-sport career with basketball and hockey — and added crew to his schedule.
He went straight to Wall Street, where he worked on the private equity and deal flow side. He also spent time in Chicago, running e-commerce for Warren Buffett’s Dearborn Financial.
“I love learning about business models – learning how someone got from A to B,” he said. Reading autobiographies gives him insight into people like Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn.
Humes came to Los Angeles to work with a friend who was involved with Market Watch and then heard about an opportunity with Pacific Title Archives, respected in the entertainment industry for its role in preserving and protecting film, video, records and digital media assets.
That, he said, put him right in the heart of the entertainment world, with clients such as Miramax and Soul Train, where friends called him “Hollywood Humes.” As he worked and gained connections, he and the company’s executives decided to create PTA Capital Partners. He is now the company’s vice president and chief operating officer and remains on the board of the media asset management company.
While he loves his work, he said he’s “not a Hollywood guy” so when Emily was a year old they chose to move to San Diego. That means his nearly daily commute to the Los Angeles area begins at 4 a.m. and he heads home after the stock markets close in the early afternoon. Recently, he opened a small office in Torrey Hills where he can work a couple of days and focus on his work with the schools’ foundation.
He’s very hands-on about that responsibility and focused on the goal of raising participation among Ocean Air parents to 78 percent from its existing 60 percent.
“We’re the largest school so it’s important to keep high parent participation,” Humes said. With the board shifting its focus from being top-down to bottom up, he said, he and fellow board member and Ocean Air parent Susan Polizzotto signed up to work at every event — and work them they are.
They are on hand for every event, from music department performances to meetings with parents of new kindergartners, he said. He also meets with parents before and after school and the foundation, which raises funds to support teachers, has started working more closely with the PTA, which raises funds for “things.”
“We are also approaching alumni,” he added. “They are still part of the neighborhood.”
His work for educational causes doesn’t stop in Del Mar. He said enjoys being involved in finding ways to help children in the inner cities and believes vouchers and charter schools may provide some answers.
His vantage point gives him perspective. From helping with raising $400 million for Volunteers of America Southwest to the smaller budget of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation, the bottom line for Humes is still about making the world a better place.
Syracuse University Alumni President 1988-1997; Syracuse University Society of Fellows 1996-1998; Founding board member/trustee of Concerned Black Men of Action for Youth 1994; Board of directors and trustee, PTA Capital 2010-present; Board of directors/trustee Volunteers of America 2006-present; Board of directors/trustee and vice chairman, Def Leppard (Raven’s Drum Foundation) 2004-present; Board of directors/trustee and vice president of marketing Del Mar Schools Education Foundation 2012-present; Member, National Association of Broadcasters; Member, Malibu Chamber of Commerce; Member, Association of Moving Images and Archives (Motion Picture Industry); Member, Motion Picture Industry; 1993: Black Enterprise Magazine nominated for top executive Young Black Males under 30 representing New York and New England Region; 1995: First minority to ever be appointed to the Executive Committee of Dearborn Financial, out of Chicago. He served as the Founding Director of E-Commerce. (Dearborn was owned at the time by Warren Buffett and the Washington Post.)
Wife Alice Humes, daughter Emily, son Joshua
Family, U.S. history, weightlifting,
Autobiographies. Favorite books: “The Federalist Papers” and “Team of Rivals”
New York to show their children cultural diversity.
From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night.”