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A New Day One
Rodney Walker - Author and Inspirational Speaker

Welcome to my site, and thank your support in helping me build a new and promising future for education. Whether it's working with students as a mentor and advocate, teachers and administrators through PD and consultation, or government and foundations for systemic change and reform, the goal is all the same; to restore faith, hope, and resilience through the power of education.

-Rodney Walker

*Intellectual Property Statement*



You agree that the Rodney Walker’s presentations, products, and services, including but not limited to A New Day One: Trauma, Grace, and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale, personal photos and video clips, and editorial content, all contain proprietary information and material that is owned by Rodney Walker and is protected by applicable intellectual property and other laws, including but not limited to copyright. You agree that you will not use such proprietary information to materials in any way whatsoever except for use of the services in compliance with this information packet. No portion of Rodney Walker’s content, products or services may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the expressed written consent of Rodney Walker or as permitted by the agreement. You agree not to modify, rent, release, loan, sell, distribute, or create derivative works based on Rodney Walker’s service in any manner, and you shall not exploit Rodney Walker’s service in any unauthorized way whatsoever.

Speaking Programs

Speaking & Consulting


The Power of Resilience: From 12 Foster Homes to Harvard University







Intended Audience: All

Keywords: *Resilience *Motivation *Inspiration 

*Academic Success *Perseverance

Ideal For: Inspirational Speaking, Commencements, Educational & Social Service Conferences, Student Orientation.


Keynote Description 

Growing up in a violent neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Rodney faced tremendous adverse childhood experiences growing up in 12 foster homes. But through perseverance and mentorship, he became highly determined and resilient, and went on to graduate from Morehouse College and Yale University. In this keynote, Rodney speaks about the pain and struggles he faced throughout his life that led to him becoming the more determined, resilient, and successful entrepreneur he is today. Read more about Walker's journey.


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

• The value of perseverance, and why it is an essential quality to have in overcoming life’s challenges, and

• The 5 steps all students need to take to overcome adversity and lead a life of success (FACES), which are:

    • Forgive (for yourself and others)

    • Adopt a mentor 

    • Create a vision board

    • Embrace your past

    • Set out to mentor someone else

Rodney Walker delivers keynote on Resilience and Bold Leadership.

Most Popular
Back-to-School Keynote!

Give them your T.I.M.E - Trauma Informed Mentorship & Education 



Intended Audience: Educators, Social Workers, Counselors, CASA, Youth Advocates

Keywords: *Mentorship *Trauma-Informed *Relationship Building 

*School Culture & Climate *Social Emotional Learning

Ideal For: Staff Trainings/PD, Teacher Institutes, Educational & Social Service

Conferences and Events.



Keynote Description 

The saying is true: T.I.M.E. (used properly) heals all wounds. In this keynote, students will be able to hear Rodney’s story of being a foster youth who graduated near the bottom of his high school class, to graduating from Yale with a master’s degree by the age of 25, and the trauma-informed program that facilitated his transformative growth. Further, this presentation outlines best practices for educators tasked with teaching at-risk youth in disadvantaged communities. Learn about the MTL program, and the techniques and strategies that sent 25 high-risk students (out of 30 program participants) to college, in a high school that only graduated 55% of it’s overall student population.


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • The most effective strategies for addressing childhood trauma.

    • How to best engage students in their own healing process.

    • How to motivate students to invest in their own education – without telling them to.

    • The strategies used to build an environment of empathy and compassion in school environments.

Walker and McGrone speaks about Trauma-Informed Education

“The Only Way Out is Within” - 

Engendering the Ownership Mindset

through Entrepreneurship Education


Intended Audience: Business Students, Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Youth,

Business & Entrepreneurship Organizations, Educators, Non-Profit Organizations

Keywords: *Entrepreneurship *Growth Mindset *Risk & Resilience 

*Youth Entrepreneurship *Personal Development *Mentorship

Ideal For: Entrepreneurship Conventions, Business Competitions, Entrepreneurship Programs, Personal & Professional Development Programming, Youth Leadership Programs


Keynote Description 

When you’re born in volatile conditions and circumstances, you can’t afford to let life happen, or to “go with the flow.” Having a vision, plan, and commitment to action is the only way to ensure you don’t fall victim to life’s inevitable circumstances. The purpose of the BOLD Leadership Initiative is to teach the entrepreneurial mindset in a critical way. It engages students by shifting their focus from the outside distractions of life to their own personal growth and development. BOLD stands for the Business of Life Development.


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • How students can create a comprehensive life business plan for achieving their personal and career goals, in a relevant and engaging way.

    • The difference between victimhood and ownership; framing your life’s struggles as an asset versus a liability.

    • How students can understand their lives from a “business” standpoint; understanding the importance of good decision-making, and why it’s important to invest in their own growth and development.

Rodney Walker speaks to students at Williamsport ASD

12 Traits of Resilience: A Guide to Helping Youth Build Something New




Intended Audience: Current & Former Foster Youth, Students (ideal for grades 4th-12th),

Youth Advocates


Keywords: *Resilience *Life Transformation *Motivation *Social Emotional Learning

*Forgiveness & Healing *Perseverance *Breaking the Cycle


Ideal For: Commencements, Educational & Social Service Conferences, Student Orientation,

Foster Care Awareness Month Programming, Youth Intervention Programming,

Mental Health Programming.


Keynote Description 

“When life is broken beyond repair, the goal is not to ‘fix what’s broken’ - the goal is to build something new, and to make sure that what’s broken is never allowed to happen again.” This keynote aims to educate students (especially those with high ACE scores) on character traits they need to adopt in order to transform their lives for the better: Humble, Grateful, Empathetic, Reflective, Strategic, Inquisitive, Selfless, Proactive, Persistent, Ambitious, Self-Disciplined, and Prayerful.


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • About the utility and value of these particular character traits in overcoming adverse life experiences. 

    • What it means to adopt these traits; particularly, how changing your character transforms adversity into opportunities for growth.

    • How a change in attitude helps you attract mentors, and build positive and proactive relationships with them.

Rodney Walker - From Foster Care to Ivy League Scholar

From Foster Care to Harvard: A Presentation on College & Career Readiness




Intended Audience: High School Students, Undergraduate Students,

Aspiring Graduate Students

Keywords: *College Preparation *Career Readiness *Strategic Planning 

*Academic Success *Education

Ideal For: College & Career Day Programming, College Fair Programming,

Student Orientation, College Advising Workshops


Keynote Description 

Despite Rodney graduating at the bottom of his high school class, he went on to graduate with Degrees from three top-tier institutions; Morehouse College, Yale University, and Harvard University. In this keynote, Walker discusses how his collegiate experiences have changed his life, and offers essential tips and strategies for mastering the undergraduate application process, the collegiate experience, and the graduate application process. *This is a consolidated version of the full workshop.


As a result of this keynote, participants will learn:

    • About the importance of post-secondary education for personal growth and career development.

    • The best strategies for students to make themselves the  most competitive candidates for college admissions.

    • An overview of how to approach critical aspects of the college application process (including the personal statement, essay prompts, resume formatting, seeking recommenders, disclosing deficiencies in your academic experience, building relationships with college admissions, etc.)

Rodney Walker delivers workshop on "Wounds You Can Not See"

Foster Care, Yale, & What Dr. Martin Luther King Meant to Me


Intended Audience: All

Keywords: *Equity *Diversity *Inspiration *Black History

*Perseverance *Cultural Awareness

Ideal For: Black History Month Programming, Educational

Conferences, Cultural Awareness Programming.


Keynote Description 

When Rodney was 17, shortly after leaving foster care, he became homeless for several months. The challenges of being a homeless teen are indescribable — but during this time, he studied a man whose inspiration meant a lot to him: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In reminiscing on Dr. King’s impact, Rodney shares that “his words were a testament that even I could have a dream, and make it a reality.” This keynote is a reflection on how studying the life and example of Dr. King taught Rodney ways that he could grow from the challenges in his life, instead of letting them drag him down. 


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • About Rodney’s family kinship to Emmett Till; the Chicago teenager whose lynching in Mississippi is widely considered to be the catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement.

    • About Rodney’s brief experience with homelessness after aging out of foster care, and, subsequently, how he came across the literature of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which inspired him to apply to Morehouse College (Dr. King’s Alma Mater).

    • An overview Dr. Kings life and leadership role in the Civil Rights Movement, and his impact on helping stories like Rodney’s to become a reality.

Rodney Walker keynotes at schools for Black History Month.

A Letter to Foster Youth: An Alternative to Suicide



Intended Audience: Homeless Youth, Current & Former Foster Youth,

At-Risk Youth (ideal for ages 13-24), Community College Students

Keywords: *Mental Health *Suicide Prevention *Resilience 

*Perseverance *Forgiveness *Visualization *Post-Traumatic Stress

Ideal For: Suicide Prevention Programming, Inspirational Speaking,

Mental Health Awareness Programming, Youth Intervention Counseling.

Keynote Description 

In the midst of life-shattering circumstances, and the post-traumatic stress that follows, our mental health and decision-making becomes extremely compromised, and, in many cases, often leads to suicide. This keynote aims to help victims of trauma consider an alternative way of self-sacrifice; building a new life for a family not-yet created. Walker shares the letter and video he created for his “unborn family” at 17 years old, and how making that commitment 10 years ago helped him find meaning, forgiveness, and a purpose for living.  


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • How to break the cycle of trauma and social failure by living for a greater life purpose.

    • How you can create the family you never had, that you desperately needed when you were younger.  

    • How to construct positive and proactive coping mechanisms to deal with social emotional trauma.

The Write Direction Program

The Will to Imagine: The Power of Visualization

Intended Audience: All

Keywords: *Inspiration *Hope *Visualization *Positive Thinking

*Growth Mindset

Ideal For: Inspirational Speaking, Personal & Professional

Development Programming, Youth & Adult Development Conferences.

Keynote Description 

One of the most critical aspects of Walker’s journey from growing up in foster care to becoming an entrepreneur and scholar is learning how to constantly imagine a different future for himself. In this keynote, Walker reflects on his experience in creating vision boards, and how to effectively use them to create transformative life experiences.


As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:

    • About the purpose and process of visualization, and what it means to materialize the goals you set to accomplish.

    • About the various ways to create visual artifacts and memorandums, and the rules of engagement around reflection and meditation.

    • The process of setting expectations, making sacrifices, and becoming disciplined. 

    • About limitations and constraints in producing a vision board.

Rodney Walker speaks to youth at YE Atlanta.

To Book Any of These Programs, 

or to Request a Custom Program, Reach Out to Us

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