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Key Personnel

Walter Mendenhall
Chief Executive Director

The Male Mogul Initiative was founded and established by the visionary leader, Walter Mendenhall. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mendenhall has always felt a sense of obligation and responsibility to empower and strengthen his community. Through personal circumstances, Walter would learn as a young adolescent, the substantial and overwhelming burden of defeating and conquering adversity. At the tender age of 5, Walter would be diagnosed with a learning disability. Through mere determination and tenacity, Walter would eventually graduate from the University of Illinois with a 3.2 GPA, where he earned academic All-Big Ten honors, while also balancing the demanding responsibilities of being a student-athlete on the University of Illinois football team. While finishing his collegiate career at Illinois State University, Walter secured the amazing opportunity of playing in the National Football League, (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals. Having accomplished his lifelong dream of making it to the NFL, Walter’s desire for mentoring and teaching young minority males, prompted him to walk away from football and focus on pursuing his passion for teaching the next generation of leaders. Walter began touring the country speaking on national platforms such as; Nike, NFL, Young Entrepreneur Council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Northwestern University and several Chicago Public Schools. In addition to Walter’s public speaking platform, he felt it imperative to increase his intellectual fortitude, where he is now completing his Ph.D in Organizational Leadership while also maintaining his influence as an inspiring writer, authoring the book, Don’t Be the Exception…CHANGE THE RULE! In 2016, while working on the West side of Chicago, Walter encountered a high school student-athlete, who through insurmountable home conditions, reverted to selling drugs in order to help provide for his family. Understanding the magnitude of this issue, Walter instantly noticed the urgent need to develop and create the Male Mogul Initiative, providing opportunities to positively transform the way young men live and lead in their communities, through leadership and entrepreneur development. In 2017 the award winning Male Mogul Initiative program, provided mentoring services for over 10 Chicago Public Schools and serviced over 200 young men monthly. The After School Matters organization rated The Male Mogul Initiative Entrepreneurship program #1 out of 350 Chicago based summer programs in 2016. Walter also organized the first Black Male Peace summit in the Austin community located on the West side of Chicago, in which over 1,000 young men attended from fifteen different schools. The Male Mogul Initiative mentoring program was awarded a two-year grant amassing over $100,000 to help mentor youth in Chicago. The Male Mogul Initiative with the leadership of Walter Mendenhall is intentional and purposeful in transforming the lives of young minority males across the city of Chicago.

DT Shackelford 
Chief Director of Operations

Known by many as a passionate and energetic inspirational speaker, Dr. DT Shackelford has created his brand as an impactful leader with an astounding desire to motivate, inspire and uplift minority males worldwide. DT humbly accepts his mission in life as a “servant leader.” DT has been able to speak to several entities including church organizations, athletic programs, non-profit and for-profit corporations as well as a plethora of educational platforms surrounding the morals and values of academic competency. While only 28, several practitioners and educators have bragged about his ability to move students with his vibrant personality and encapsulating message about overcoming adversity with a mentality to never quit. Being a first-generation college student, DT has made it a personal obligation to become a trailblazer for those coming behind him. Growing up without a biological father, DT was faced with tough challenges and would later lose his father to a heart attack in the 10th grade. DT’s step-father was present and raised him from a young age. Through him, DT learned what it meant to be resilient and overcome obstacles. Being a 10th grade dropout and spending a considerable amount of time in prison, DT’s step-father was constantly defined and relegated to the term “convicted felon.” Due to past unfortunate experiences, he is driven the most to inspire young minority males worldwide to use their adversity as motivation to achieve success. Destined to establish himself as a leader, DT would go on to receive a football scholarship from The University of Mississippi, where he was able to accomplish great feats, both on and off of the field of play. Plagued by two devastating ACL injuries, DT understood that it was imperative to not become defined by athletic ability but rather by his relentless pursuit towards education. Earning a Doctorate of Higher Education, DT feels it is his responsibility to break the barriers of mediocrity through purposeful and impactful interactions that the Male Mogul Initiative embodies. As the emphasis for young black leadership becomes more imperative, Dr. Shackelford’s partnership with Walter Mendenhall is grounded in intentionally improving the opportunity gap for minority males who reside in Chicago, IL.

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