Ray Jefferson

Ray Jefferson

  • Former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret, U.S. Presidential Honor Guard, and Special Forces
  • Has held numerous government positions including the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Veteran’s Employment and Training under President Obama
  • Former White House Fellow and Fulbright Fellow in Singapore

Travels from Singapore or Hawaii

Keynote Fee: Contact Forte Speakers

 Ray Jefferson

Ray Jefferson is a transformational leader and dynamic speaker. He is a West Point graduate, former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret, Harvard–trained MBA and MPA, and was a White House Fellow as well as a Fulbright Fellow in Singapore. Ray held positions as a Leadership Consultant for McKinsey & Company in Asia; the Deputy Director for the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; and more recently, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Veteran’s Employment and Training under President Barack Obama. He is a proven, tri-sector leader committed to helping and inspiring others as well as developing global leaders and healthy, high-achievement organizations.

Ray’s interests have always focused on organizational change, inspirational leadership, top team development, and peak performance. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a major in leadership then served as an Army Officer with the Infantry, Rangers, and Special Forces, with leadership positions in the U.S. Presidential Honor Guard, 3rd Ranger Battalion, and 1st Special Forces Group.

In 2003, Ray was selected by former Secretary of State Colin Powell as one of two inaugural recipients of the Harrison H. Schmitt Leadership Award for Fulbright Alumni in recognition of his achievements and contributions in the area of public service. While serving as a Special Forces (Green Beret) A-team leader, Ray lost all five fingers on his left hand while attempting to protect his teammates from a hand grenade detonating prematurely. After recuperating, he earned a MPA in Strategic Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, graduating with distinction as a Littauer Fellow. He also earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and was recognized with the Dean’s Award for exceptional leadership and service. Upon graduation, he was selected as a White House Fellow and worked as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Ray then served as a Fulbright Fellow in Singapore, where he studied leadership within Asian contexts. Afterward, he served as the Deputy Director for the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), where he co-led the organizational transformation for a department of over 230 team members with an operating budget of $182 million.

Through his keynotes, Ray inspires people and organizations to achieve their potential, overcome setbacks, and use their gifts to make a difference in the lives of others and the world. His message helps executives in their journey to become transformational global leaders. Audience members will further develop their leadership capabilities, and become better prepared to manage their organizations, inspire team members to motivate themselves and promote greater collaboration across organizational boundaries.

Today, Ray is a member of the Asia Society, Fulbright Association, NAACP, Special Forces Association, and Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). Ray was born and raised in Guilderland, New York. He now divides his time between Singapore and the US, and considers home to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Ray customizes his keynotes to achieve the vision and objectives of each group.


From Tragedy to Triumph – Moving from Catastrophe to Creation

This presentation is for individuals, teams, and organizations that are struggling through tough times or setbacks. This talk is designed to help you overcome adversity. Ray shares his personal journey of peaks and valleys, explaining that “pain has a purpose,” and teaching ways to find the strength to get unstuck and move forward until you can achieve your destiny. He shows you how to survive and then thrive through a crisis experience and benefit from post-traumatic growth in order to emerge as a truly great transformational leader, and how to help others to do the same.

From Evolutionary to Revolutionary Leader: The Heart and Science of Transforming Organizations

Sooner or later, a company will need to transform itself in response to market shifts, competition, groundbreaking technologies, and disruptive start-ups to remain competitive in the marketplace. How executives lead their companies in an increasingly volatile world will determine if they thrive, just survive or succumb to their challenges. When organizations need to embark on revolutionary change instead of evolutionary change, transformational leadership is required. This is not the kind of leadership that maintains the status quo. This requires a dynamic form of leadership – combining a systematic approach with an inspiring vision to change the culture, mobilizing team members’ hearts, minds, and talents towards unleashing and achieving their personal potential and the potential of their organization. Ray provides insights into what is required to help motivate direct reports, promote collaboration across organizational boundaries, develop emerging leaders and embrace change through a participative approach.

Developing Inspirational, Global Leaders of the Future Who Can Innovate and Impact

Has your company failed to reap returns on emerging market opportunities or suffered from low growth in developing markets because of insufficient quality leaders to manage global operations? You are not alone. Global Leadership is the ability to envision, mobilize others, and execute across cultures and geographies to achieve desired results. Many global organizations have found themselves underperforming in emerging markets or have problems identifying leadership talent, which has resulted in an inability to respond to market changes, and low return on investment in emerging markets. Ray Jefferson talks about what constitutes a global leader, best practices for how to find and develop them, and how to maintain their engagement for the long-term.

Overcoming Leadership Burnout: Surviving and Thriving as a Transformational Global Leader

Leadership is a rewarding endeavor. At the same time, the stress of continually dealing with issues and challenges combined with the long days, extended travel, and over-exertion – exacerbated when having to deal with dysfunctional relationships – can make even the most experienced leader susceptible to burnout. Ray unveils the signs of leadership burnout, explains preventative measures you can take, and teaches ways to revitalize and rejuvenate. He inspires leaders to heal and regain control of their lives – especially when they are close to, or beyond, the edge.


“Ray’s a tour de force whose strategic insight, energy and inquisitive awareness ignite the passion of organizations to be smarter, more agile, and better in an ever changing and challenging global landscape.” Rob Gordon Chief of Strategy, APX-Labs

“Ray deserves bold marks for his ability to instill the principles of leadership and teamwork in even the most cynical among us. I highly recommend him to any CEO who wants to improve the performance of his team or organization.” Julian Setian CEO, SOS International LLC

“Ray captivated the audience with the story of his own journey and the lessons he had learned along the way. I think what was most impressive was that Ray presented a story of remarkable achievement in the face of daunting adversity while at the same time remaining humble and self-effacing.” Joseph McCarthy Senior Associate Dean and Director of Degree Programs, Harvard University

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