Baltimorean Rodney C. Burris is a national motivational speaker, owner of multiple successful corporations and an advocate for social change. As state representative for the 43rd district in Baltimore city, Burris is approachable, maintaining an “open door policy” that welcomes any individual or group needing a little inspirational advice.

(Photo Courtesy of Rodney Burris)

(Photo Courtesy of Rodney Burris)

Perhaps this is the integrity and spirit of a man who literally started from the bottom and is truly appreciative of his journey in life.

Sprung from a destitute Florida upbringing, Burris would eventually travel internationally and graduate with a B.A. in Psychology from The Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. in Management from Capella University. He maintains that if it were not for the sacrifices his mother made early on in life, he would not be in his position today.

Do you think your education helped you attain your career goals?

“Absolutely. Education is probably the foremost reason why I am here today. A son of the city, my parents moved us to Florida when I was an older child. Life there was unstable; we spent most of the time moving from place to place. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I realized my mom was moving me from worse to increasingly better school environments. I met individuals who absolutely and fundamentally opened my world view and changed my life for the better.”

What projects are you most proud of achieving during your career to date?

“My proudest achievement is currently in the works. We are collaborating with community leaders in Baltimore city to bring millions of dollars to their zip codes through a federal neighborhood revitalization grant. Our partners include researchers, technical writers, neighbors, statisticians, residents and business professionals. If successful, an entire swath of our city will be positively impacted by the comprehensive rejuvenation that comes with targeted resources poured into a concentrated area of the city. The people will be strengthened, and thereby we will together strengthen our city. This is my proudest accomplishment to date; I speak about it with the past-tense hope of already seeing its fruition.”

What advice do you have for others who would like to follow in your footsteps?

“Whatever you do, it has to come from your heart. If you cook, if you watch kids, if you organize systems, if you manage money, if you drive cars or fix them; whatever you do, it has to bubble from your heart. That bubbling, it is your calling. It’s the thing that keeps you up at night because invigorating ideas are swirling. This is where you will have your biggest impact. A songwriter once said, ‘If it comes from the heart, it’ll speak to the heart.’ Allow your heart to speak to our hearts, and we’ll all be better because of it.”


Keisha Oduor is a professional writer and entrepreneur who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a degree in Communications and French from New York University with work experience in publishing, nonprofits, healthcare administration and program management. Her work can be found on


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