Born in Birmingham Alabama in the sixties, Rod grew up at the epicenter of the Civil Rights backlash that was the prevailing climate of what had previously been known as “the most segregated city in America”. Rod spent his early childhood in his grandmother’s household, mere blocks from the famous Birmingham Jail – surrounded by family members who’d participated heavily in marches and demonstrations. He then spent his teen years with his mother in the “Brickyard” – one of the nation’s most notorious government housing projects. Given his early experiences, Rod has a unique perspective into the challenges faced by disadvantaged communities.
Rod has served on the executive team of a number of nonprofits, including New Leaders, College Kids, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Taskforce on Concentrated, Intergenerational Poverty (NTCIP), and he co-founded the Human Harmony project and Change Artists. Rod serves on the board of America Achieves, Defy Ventures, and the Empowerment Zone, and is actively involved in a full range of social justice issues from education, to opportunity, spiritual climate, and marriage equality. As a minister and psychologist, Rod also worked on two projects during the 2008 presidential campaign: 1) opening up the dialogue between political progressives and Evangelical Christians and 2) founding UMN - Urban Ministers Network, which engaged nearly 10,000 small urban congregations and accounted for an estimated 1 million new votes.