Derek Rhodes is a business strategist, community leader, social entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. As a highly accomplished strategist with nearly a decade of experience in the corporate world, he has served as Microsoft’s Chief of Staff, Miami HEAT’s Director of Business Strategy, and Google’s Team Lead.
Derek has an innate ability to change systems from within. After graduating from Duke University and receiving his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Studies, he pursued two highly competitive internships – one at the Department of Justice and another at The White House. Derek’s skills and drive caught the attention of President Obama, who publicly recognized him at a press briefing in the East Room. In his time at the Obama Foundation, he led My Brother’s Keeper Alliance – one of the largest youth development initiatives in history, where he oversaw the successful distribution of over $1M in grant funding to nonprofit organizations and designed the initiative’s first long-term strategic planning process.
As an experienced strategist with a track record of achieving both business and policy objectives, Derek is known for his results-driven approach and compelling communication style. He is passionate about helping historically underestimated youth, particularly Black men, find personal and professional success. This passion led him to found the Durham Success Summit, a one-day leadership conference providing career skills and internships for over 150 young people. As Executive Director, Derek continues to build lasting relationships, and drive the organization’s mission of elevating underrepresented youth into corporate America through practical education and exposure.
Derek draws on his own experiences as a Black man in America to help audiences understand the challenges and opportunities they face. In 2022, he was recognized as one of Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 business leaders. He has also been featured in Business Insider for his community contributions.
Derek is active as a custom keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who tailors his presentations to fit the unique needs of each audience, where he uses real-world examples and a solid framework to inspire meaningful change, and provides the strategic tools necessary young professionals or new leaders looking to get ahead in their careers. As a highly sought-after corporate leader, Derek has spoken to groups around the world, including the American School in London, Chicago Public Schools, and National Network of Schools in Partnership. He holds a City Council-appointed seat on the City of Durham’s Racial Equity Commission, and serves on the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy Board of Visitors.
Derek’s latest book, Jimmy for the City, was published in 2016.