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American Program Bureau Speaking to the world for over 50 years

Rye Barcott

Social Entrepreneur & Veteran


On the surface, Rye Barcott may seem a man of contradictions: a Marine and a peacemaker, a social entrepreneur and a businessman. But, at its core, his mission is resolute and converges across sectors: to connect talent with opportunity, to spark change from within.

In his best-selling book, It Happened on the Way to War, Barcott takes readers into the world of social entrepreneurship in Africa and counterinsurgency in the Marines as he experienced them simultaneously. Eschewing old notions of top-down, command-and-control management, he shows the impact that small, diverse teams of people from unlikely places can make. The theme is universal: leaders emerge in the service of others.

Barcott is a TED Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. President Obama named him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board as a representative of the veteran community. He has delivered featured presentations at venues ranging from the Gates Foundation, the British Royal Society of Arts, Partners in Health, and the Clinton Global Initiative to corporations and industry associations including Best Buy, JP Morgan, Target, Amazon, the Mobile Marketing Association, and the North Carolina Governor’s Conference for Women.

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Spark Change from Within

This is Rye Barcott's signature presentation on social entrepreneurship. As inspiring as it is informative, this presentation will motivate audiences on their own quests to make a difference in the world, regardless of age or avocation.

"In 2007, Rye Barcott, our youngest-ever commencement speaker, electrified the audience."
–Dr. Barbara Rimer, Dean, UNC Gillings School of Public Health

"A tremendous story."
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Leadership When It Matters Most

How do you lead when lives are on the line? Why is this new focus on leadership the key to our future? Rye Barcott is among the new wave of young veterans called by TIME magazine's Joe Klein "the next greatest generation."

In this keynote speech, Barcott presents a new framework for thinking about leadership that can be characterized by one word: "participatory." Using this new framework, he distills the key lessons he learned from building an NGO in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, while leading Marines into dangerous places. The presentation draws out highly relevant lessons to the business world and is specially designed for audiences seeking to unlock the potential of the teams with whom they work.

"You might not see 'leadership' in the title but that's what this book is all about. If you are interested in the next generation of leaders – whether from an African slum, a battlefield in Iraq, a corporate board room, or your own community – pick up this book. You'll be hooked after the first page."
–Adi Ignatius, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review

"Barcott is a role model of authentic leadership in action. His leadership is the way of the future, whether in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors, or working collaboratively with multiple sectors to solve the world's greatest problems."
–Bill George, author of True North and professor of management practice, Harvard Business School

Talent Is Universal; Opportunity Is Not

This presentation challenges audiences to break out of their comfort zones, challenge tired stereotypes, and build enduring relationships with people from dramatically different backgrounds. Talent is universal; opportunity is not. But it doesn't have to be that way, and this presentation shows what is possible when small amounts of opportunity connect with talented people in difficult places.

"Whether we are in the slums of the world's biggest cities, in rural Haiti, or on college campuses, we can learn from Tabitha, Salim, and Rye – a nurse, a community organizer, and a young Marine living in urban poverty – about how to fight extreme privation and bring about lasting change."
–Dr. Paul Farmer, Professor, Harvard Medical School; Co-founder, Partners in Health

"Rye Barcott is one of those rare people who can bridge the widest divides."
–Nathaniel Fick, CEO, Center for a New America Security

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