Passionate About Inspiring Others

Derek is passionate about demonstrating, through a range of mediums, how individuals of all backgrounds and industries can reinvent themselves and civic engagement on their own terms.

A deeply empathetic individual, Derek Rhodes is someone who understands just how powerful people are and how untapped their potential to change world might be. As a White House intern under President Obama, Derek learned how to unleash his inner power and how to use storytelling to encourage others to do the same.

Featured in Business Insider for his commitment to community and development work in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina, he is highly sought after as a motivational speaker, respected for his emphasis on the importance of civic engagement at the local level. In 2015, Derek garnered national attention after President Obama acknowledged his tireless work at both Duke and The White House during a East Room press briefing (watch the video here!). 

His 2016 children’s book, Jimmy for the City, not only strives to teach children about local politics, but also amplifies the messages Derek teaches in his speeches to students around the world: believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and most of all, communicate your authentic feelings to the world. In 2019, Derek founded the Durham Success Summit, a one-day leadership conference and networking event for high school and college students from underrepresented populations. 


Determined to use his experiences as a platform to lift up others, Derek has made access, equality, and opportunity pillars of both his professional and personal life. He works full-time and is a graduate of Duke University, where he majored in Public Policy Studies and Political Science. 


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