After graduating from Furman University, Derek spent four months teaching at a school for orphans in a fishing village of Kenya, where he noticed a disconnect between those who want to help and those they are trying to help. He felt like the same disconnect existed where he was from, between the homeless and those who sought to help the homeless. As a result, upon returning to Charleston he voluntarily decided to live among the homeless for a year.
Through the experience he noticed that many of the men he lived with worked day labor, and so he decided to work day labor himself. He saw that while many simply wanted to get their wages for the night, others were sincerely trying to get ahead. Soon after he started In Every Story, which by 2014 placed as many as 170 employees on a daily basis at 25% + higher wages than competitors.
Derek has a curiosity and thirst for life, having lived on a sailboat in New York City, visited more than fifty countries, and driven a car from Mongolia to London.
He also has blogged for The Huffington Post and has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
After wandering through what felt like the valley of the shadow of death—personally and professionally—for a few years, he’s working on a few new projects focused on building community and removing isolation. You can check them out at www.LetsCoLife.com and www.ListeningIsLoving.com.
His proudest life moment was when he won a male beauty pageant contest in college, performing an interpretational ribbon dance to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.”