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Empowering black fatherhood since 2004


Real Dads™ Network is a non-profit organization established in 2004 by Derek Phillips, following the success of the award-winning documentary "Real Dads-Black Men on Fatherhood" directed by Derek Phillips and Nikki Dees in 2000. The organization was founded in response to a strong need identified from the documentary feedback for a platform where fathers could share their stories, access resources, engage in meaningful conversations about manhood, fatherhood, and family, and feel connected to a positive and empowering community.


Our mission at Real Dads Network is to provide support and resources for fathers and families, advocating for father involvement as essential for the development of healthy children. We believe that children thrive when both parents are actively engaged in the parenting process, regardless of their marital or living circumstances. Our vision is to foster a culture where all fathers are actively involved in parenting and are recognized as exemplary role models by society. We aim to strengthen the institution of the family by empowering fathers with support, information, resources, and opportunities to be the best for their families and communities.

Founder & Executive Director

Derek Phillips

Derek Phillips is the founder and Executive Director of the Real Dads Network, champions positive fatherhood through media and community involvement. His documentary "Real Dads–Black Men on Fatherhood" highlighted positive black fatherhood. Retired as an Assistant Principal in 2019, Derek is dedicated to youth empowerment and active in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He and his wife Maria have two daughters, Jordyn and Maya.

Real Dads Club Facilitator

Michael Nisbett

In 2019, Michael Nisbett retired from Hunter College after 37 years as Director of the Technology Resource Center. He led initiatives like the Zabar Internship Program and has been a mentor with Hunter College's Brothers for Excellence since 2008. He also volunteers with iMentor, supporting students from low-income backgrounds. Married for 41 years to Lois, they're proud parents and grandparents.

Real Dads Club Facilitator

Kenyatta T. Rouse, a proud father of a teen son and preschool daughter, engages in community outreach, particularly supporting fathers to stay connected with their children. A State University of New York – Albany graduate with a background in law enforcement, he is also a member of the Prince Hall Free Masons.

Community Liason

Committed to facilitating communication between dads and fatherhood organizations, providing enlightening, encouraging, and empowering information. I counter negative media portrayals with positive imagery, affiliated with organizations like Fathers First at The Akira Center Harlem, NY, Fathers For Progress at the Fatherhood Training Center, Bronx, NY, and Bronx Father's Taken Action under Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s support.

Community Liaison for RDN

Leon Tulton, a community liaison for Real Dads Network, promotes fatherly political involvement and organizes social events. He advocates inclusivity, welcoming all fathers, and also works in government while volunteering as a building association president in New York City with his wife and teenage daughter.

Facilitator for Real Dads Clubs

A proud dad to my fifteen-year-old daughter, Taylor. After high school, I served in the U.S. Air Force for four years before a career in law enforcement. Now, I'm a full-time real estate investor and salesperson. As a longstanding member of Real Dads, I facilitate discussions in one of the clubs, focusing on fatherhood problem-solving strategies with fellow dads.

Social Media and Marketing Consultant

Ishmael Street

He began in marketing for "Day With Daddy," then managed publicity for shows like "The Love Jones Experience" and "Hip Hop Today/Red Cup Radio." Later, he co-produced a radio show for "The Chronicles Of A Hip Hop Legend" series. Now, he hosts the "Dad Is Not A Noun Podcast" on YouTube and all audio platforms.

Faith Based Community Liaison

For over 25 years, Aubrey LeGrier has passionately supported fathers and father figures, advocating for positive family development. As a mentor and community leader in the responsible fatherhood movement, he collaborates with Real Dads Network to recognize and empower fathers, striving for better outcomes for families.

Author and Co-chair

Author and Book publisher at SeriousPensPublishing llc

Co-chair of the Scholarship Committee for Real Dads Network

English as New Language Coordinator

Leonel Barria 

Passionate ENL Coordinator at NYC Department of Education, dedicated to empowering English Language Learners (ELLs) and Multilingual Language Learners (MLLs) to reach academic potential. Skilled in effective teaching strategies, compliance with state regulations, and fostering inclusive environments. Inspiring students to embrace diversity and providing transformative educational experiences. Also serving as Co-Chair of the Scholarship Committee for Real Dads Network.




We empower fathers by providing them with the support, resources, and opportunities they need to excel in their roles as parents and community leaders.​


We foster a sense of belonging and connection among fathers, providing a platform for them to share their experiences, learn from one another, and support each other in their journey of fatherhood.​

We advocate for shared parenting as the standard for public policy decisions, recognizing the positive impact of involved fathers on children's well-being and development.

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