Children & Middle Grade Author
Community Focused Problem Solver
Travels from: Raleigh, NC or Seattle, WA

“Derek stands out in my mind as a shining star. He was hard working a creative problem solver and a true collaborator.” – Duke University

Derek Rhodes is a business strategist, community leader, social entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. In each of these roles, he has focused on the positive impact he can make on others. By focusing on meaningful work, he measures his success according to the results that he drives for his teams. He has established himself as a consistent performer, devising new and unique ways to change systems from within and pioneer bold ideas that serve the public.

After graduating from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Political Studies in 2011, Derek went on to become an intern at the Department of Justice, where he developed skills that have enabled him to thrive in other high-pressure, fast-paced environments. He proceeded into a second coveted internship, this one at The White House. It was not long afterward that his life took a drastic turn: at a press briefing in the East Room, President Obama highlighted Derek’s efforts at Duke and during his internships.

Derek took this momentum and moved into roles at multiple world-class organizations. He was an Associate Team Lead at Google for a little more than a year. He oversaw Strategic Initiatives and Operations at My Brother’s Keeper Alliance through the Obama Foundation. And he served as the Director of Business Strategy for the Miami Heat. Each of these positions introduced Derek to fresh challenges. He was able to hone his skills as a planner, thinker, and leader, seeing up-close what made some of the most sophisticated and effective teams function as well as they did.

Throughout all of this time, Derek was carving out initiatives of his own. In 2016, he authored the children’s book Jimmy in the City as a way to present local politics in a positive, educational light to young people. This was also his first foray into public communication of a message that has since become a common refrain: Derek motivates and inspires students to see beyond their current situations and follow through on the dreams they have envisioned for themselves.

Based on these ideals, Derek founded the Durham Success Summit, a one-day leadership conference through which he has created opportunities for high school and college students from underrepresented and underprivileged communities. Although unique as an organization, the Durham Success Summit is just one more reflection of Derek’s personality, vision, and the mission he has set for himself. His belief in the power of progress is immense – and it is a belief that bursts forth in all of his speeches, presentations, and projects.

Most recently, Derek has worked at Microsoft, as Chief of Staff. His media appearances include an entry in the 2015 Business Insider article, “Top 15 Most Impressive Students at Duke,” and he also holds a Certificate in Disruptive Strategy from Harvard Business School Online. Derek’s dual interests in business strategy and civic engagement combine to make him a uniquely empathetic, creative, and results-driven problem-solver and innovator.

Jimmy For the City

Middle Grade Novel

his book tells the story of a small boy with big ideas. Jimmy likes being helpful but more importantly, he wants to make a difference. He is smart, well mannered, generous and practical – all the key skills needed for becoming a council member.

Jimmy is destined for greatness, but sadly no one can see that a 14-year-old boy would make the most remarkable politician. They laugh and they doubt, but Jimmy stays committed to proving them wrong. It’s not long before Jimmy has the entire city on the edge of their seats.

This story teaches children that they can fulfill their dreams and achieve their potential simply through a little hard work and determination. It promotes positive character traits and emphasizes the importance of putting in the effort.

In the first of the series, this fun and friendly book breaks down politics to a child friendly level and encourages little readers to try their hardest in everything they do.

How to Change the World

Derek’s flagship presentation that educates audiences on how to reinvent civic and corporate engagement on their own terms. Learn three key steps for inspiring meaningful change.

Storytelling for Change - Interactive Workshop

Based on Derek’s children’s book, this workshop teaches middle and high school students to reflect on their personal lives and how their written story can impact their local communities.

Inspired to Serve: How Business Leaders and Educators Can Authentically Promote a Culture of Activism

Effective Changemaking 101

Success Summit Blueprint: Define and Design Your Life

Derek’s Blog

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Durham Success Summit, founder

Derek accrued invaluable skills and experience in high-level leadership positions at some of the most recognizable companies in the world including the White House, Google, Microsoft, the Miami Heat, and The Obama Foundation.

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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