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.