Ruth T. Reyes’s Thought Leaders

We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Ruth T. Reyes, assistant dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, Johnson University Florida, Kissimmee.


Don Tingle, my former youth minister in New York City, is an evangelist to Muslims. Don’s dedication to teaching God’s Word and investing in young people impacted my leadership style. He is a 1972 graduate of Johnson University, where I now teach. Talk about a far-reaching influence!

07_TL_Reyes_Cross_JNLeon Pommers was my college piano professor. As a young concert pianist, he escaped Poland during World War II. His family, except for a sister, died in concentration camps. Mr. Pommers occasionally taught me at his home in Forest Hills, New York, and his wife would prepare tea and biscuits after the lesson. Nibbling the goodies, I would solemnly look over the rows of family pictures meticulously positioned on the table, on the piano, and on the walls around the living room, mindful of the Pommerses’ heritage and horrid experience. I learned technique from two previous piano masters, but Mr. Pommers taught me how to breathe in music and breathe out my soul. He modeled balancing career and family and how to rise above any circumstance. He was the one who inspired me to become a teacher who absolutely loves to teach.

Linda Rooks is a published Christian author, blogger, and marriage coach. I admire her creative mind and introspective heart. The “Marriage 911” ministry she and her husband lead is impacting Central Florida. She models tenacity, humility, hope, and dedication to knowing and recapturing a woman’s first love, Jesus Christ himself.

Other thought leaders I admire are my siblings: Noemi Legaspi (a nurse), Loida Topacio (special education teacher), and Gedeon Topacio (chief administrative officer). Though separated when we were younger, we rediscovered our deep love for one another in our adult years. All of them are prayer warriors. Generosity and selflessness are Noemi’s forte. Loida’s gifts are discernment and creativity. Gedeon is diligent and loyal. I, the eldest, regularly seek their counsel.

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