Meet our Founder:

Walter Mendenhall


A Chicago native, Walter is passionate about improving the social, personal, and financial outcomes of young men born into circumstances or communities with few positive role models. He is the founder and Executive Director of our organization and has anchored this mission to everything we do at the Male Mogul Initiative. 

Walter has been overcoming adversity since he was a child. At the age of 5, he was diagnosed with a learning disability. Still, through hard work, persistence, and the guidance of a loving mother, Walter graduated from Niles West High School with a 3.2 GPA and a football scholarship to attend the University of Illinois. 

He went on to have a successful career in the NFL as a running back, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals.

Giving Back

through Leadership

Having accomplished his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL, Walter developed a deeply rooted desire to empower young men of color from similar circumstances to achieve their dreams. He dove into a career of education, leadership, and mentorship, using his knowledge as a high school teacher and college professor to become a motivational speaker for national platforms such as the Young Entrepreneur Council, Fellowship for Christian Athletes, Nike, and the NFL. 

Additionally, Walter made a dedicated effort to improve his educational and business acumen, enrolling as a Ph.D. candidate in Organizational Leadership. During this time, Walter became a published writer, authoring “Don’t Be the Exception…CHANGE THE RULE,” an inspiring playbook for improving personal outcomes informed by his own experiences of hard work, intellectual application, and resilience.

A serial entrepreneur, Walter currently leads the Male Mogul Initiative.

Walter has been recognized for his work in the Chicago community through various institutional awards, including the 2022 Chicago Innovation Award, the 2022 University of Chicago Research Award, an MIT_Solve Semi-Finalist , and the 2023 Wintrust Bank Neighborhood Award. He has also been featured on Good Morning America, PBS, NBC, Crains, and ABC.