American Program Bureau A Global Speaker, Celebrity & Entertainment Agency

Rye Barcott

Social Entrepreneur & Veteran


Rye Barcott is a veteran and social entrepreneur. While serving as a U.S. Marine, he co-founded the non-governmental organization Carolina For Kibera, which for 15 years has helped break cycles of violence and extreme poverty with innovative, data-driven public health in one of the largest informal settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa. After the Marines, he graduated from Harvard Business School and co-founded with a fellow Marine Double Time Capital, an American clean energy investment firm.

Barcott wrote a book, It Happened on the Way to War , about the experience of fighting wars while waging peace, and the leadership challenges from two at times divergent forms of service. Reader’s Digest named it one of its best non-fiction titles of the year, and Bono called it “a wild ride of a book.” Written for students, it has been selected as required summer reading by high schools and colleges across the nation.

Barcott learned public speaking from his father, a Marine Vietnam veteran and teacher. A TED Conferences Fellow, he has presented in venues ranging from the Gates Foundation and Mayo Clinic, to corporations and industry associations such as Amazon, J.P. Morgan, Target, the Mobile Marketing Association, and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Through his narrative, accompanied by illustrative media, Barcott shows how small groups of committed people from different backgrounds can unite and defy the odds. His engaging, fun, and surprising presentations weave together themes of empowerment, personal discovery, and risk taking. He brings to life first hand examples of 21st century leadership that inspire and inform audiences working in their own ways to make an impact and get stuff done.


  • 2016- Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters, Dartmouth College
  • 2014- Present: Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Double Time Capital
  • 2012-Present: Presidential Appointee to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (Appointed as a representative of the veterans community)
  • 2011- Present: World Economic Forum Young Global Leader
  • 2009-2013: Special Advisor to the Chairman & CEO of Duke Energy
  • 2006-2009: Harvard CPL Social Entrepreneurship Fellow and student, Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Business School
  • 2001-2006: U.S. Marine Corps
  • 2001- Present: Carolina for Kibera Co-Founder and Treasurer of the Board
  • 1997-2001: B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Marine Corps NROTC midshipman


Leadership When It Matters Most

How do small teams react effectively under extreme duress? What can we learn from effective teams of committed individuals and apply to ordinary situations where leadership matters? This talk focuses on five lessons from the Marine Corps and humanitarian work peace building in one of the world's largest shanty towns. Barcott guides his audience on how they can more effectively lead and make an impact when the going gets tough.

Spark Charge from Within: A Guide for Students

“Many Americans go to the developing world to serve others. A smaller percentage end up being useful,” New York Times columnist David Brooks opined in his column, “The Rugged Altruists.” What differentiates successful social enterprises at home or abroad? As inspiring as it is informative, this presentation reveals the framework of participatory development, focuses on practical lessons learned, and motivates audiences on their own quests to make a difference in the world. Barcott wrote his book It Happened on the Way to War specifically for students and has presented to more than 100 schools during first year reading programs, commencements, and other featured presentations.

Spark Change from Within: A “How-To” for the Healthcare Industry

Specifically designed for healthcare professionals, this presentation focuses on applying the model of participatory development to effect better health outcomes at home and abroad. It examines the motivational story of Tabitha Festo, a widowed nurse and mother of three who started a clinic with a grant for $26 in 2000. The Tabitha Clinic is now the base of the largest program the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operates in informal settlements worldwide. This motivational talk focuses on the model of participatory development and how effective, sustainable change is led from within communities, not imposed from the top down.

Starting and Sustaining

It’s relatively easy to start something. The beginning is often exhilarating. It’s the stuff books are made of. But the hardest parts often come in sustaining, building, and growing over years. This talk draws on Barcott’s experiences co-founding a company, a non-profit, and an investment team within a large company. It mixes funny anecdotes with inspiring stories of teams and individuals persevering through tough times to accomplish missions, then re-invent themselves toward new goals while often sticking together as teams. It is a motivational talk that gives audiences ideas for how they can be more effective at starting and sustaining new initiatives, whether they are inside a large organization or creating a new one.

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