Wayne Dorsey is the Founder & Chairman of The Safe Ride Foundation, Frederick County Maryland’s only 501(c)3 nonprofit organization taking a stance against driving while intoxicated.
But he’s much more than that. Wayne is a social entrepreneur. He created the Safe Ride Foundation, along with it’s flagship program, S.O.S. Safe Ride, in 2014 when he was just 23 years old and is continually looking for ways to have a positive impact.
He’s also pretty good at rallying others around a cause. Just check out news of how Wayne’s pitch to the Frederick Chapter of the Impact Club won back in 2019.
Wayne hails from Charles Town, West Virginia, and graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. When asked what else people should know, he shared that he’s a middle child, his family moved houses every single year from the time that he was three years old, his favorite food is “seriously” broccoli (no cheese), his Sun is in Gemini and his Moon is in Leo, and he prefers the pronouns he and him.
He describes himself as “Always Approachable, Freakishly Tall, and Never Truly ‘Done’ “. He’s a man of many talents. He boasts an IQ of 131, plays no fewer than seven instruments, does stand-up comedy, and was once a professional skateboarder. He He was selected as Time Magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year (in case you missed it, you were too).
Why we love Wayne
What’s not to love? In addition to all that was already said, Wayne is a gentle giant both in physical presence and in spirit. He’s doggedly determined, but not pushy. He has a big heart. He’s talented, but not showy. He carries himself with humility and wears his authority easily. When he talks of his successes it feels like an invitation to celebrate, never boastful. He’s insightful and wise beyond his years. And, he’s been a valued part of the Cowork Frederick community for over 4 years. We’ve watched him and his organization grow and evolve and are so proud of all that he’s achieved and look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Q&A with Wayne
Why create the Safe Ride Foundation & S.O.S. Safe Ride?
I’ve never had a heartstring-pulling story for why I originally started Safe Ride, and I never felt the need to pretend as if I did. To be completely transparent, I knew I at least had a cool idea, and at 23 years old I was naive and cocky enough to try it. I also didn’t have much to lose at the time. So I tried it, and failed many many (many) times, got humbled more times than I could count, but eventually figured it out (to some extent). At the end of the day, that’s all that entrepreneurship is, right? Just continually “figuring it out”.
But – for the history lesson: While I was in college in Morgantown, a friend started a similar organization and was looking for weekend help with the operations. I was an athlete and also a fraternity brother, so needless to say I was constantly surrounded by people who made less-than-favorable decisions when alcohol was involved. I got involved with the organization and provided help when needed.
I fell in love with the anti-drunk driving cause, as well as the people with whom it resonated, and decided to bring that impact to Frederick. At first I considered larger markets, but at the advice of mentors, I decided to look into mid-size cities with scarce transportation options. Frederick turned out to be a perfect place to start the organization, as (at the time) drunk driving was on the rise, and there were very limited choices when it came to getting home safely after a night of drinking.
It’s now six years later, and the nonprofit organization I founded is continuing to work tirelessly every week to attack drunk driving from every angle that it can. Through the SOS Safe Ride program, we are proud to have prevented 13,000 DUI’s in the Frederick County area, garnering support from the city of Frederick, big brands such as Budweiser and Allstate, as well as the over 100 members of our monthly membership program.
What inspires you and keeps you going?
Entrepreneurs are the only people in this world who will work 80 hours in order to avoid working 40. I do it for me, yes, but I also do it in order to lead by example for my peers, family, and my future self.
Cowork Frederick members tend to be a little unconventional. How does that apply to you?
I don’t consider myself a “control freak” per se, but I do have control-freak tendencies, at least when it comes to my own life. I like to eat what I kill, I want to be the sole arbiter of if I become/remain successful or not, and to me, there’s no better feeling than when someone likes something that you created by yourself and thinks “I’d like to support that”.
Which of the guiding values defined by Cowork Frederick members speaks to you?
(author’s note: Ever the over-achiever, Wayne gave us his take on all eight values, not just one.)
- AUTHENTICITY – Most people smell BS from a mile away. I often get told by people that I’m “not what they expected”, but it’s because I’ve never been afraid to be who I am, and I say that confidently.
- BOLDNESS – Fortune favors the bold. I try new things in my organization constantly and it’s always served me well for better or worse.
- CURIOSITY – The most dangerous phrase in business is “But we’ve always done it this way”
- EXCELLENCE – I don’t aim to be the cheapest, I don’t even aim to be the biggest, I simply aim to do it like no other.
- GENEROSITY – The best gift that you can give someone is your time because it’s your most valuable asset.
- TENACITY – It’s not over if you fail, it’s over if you quit. Win or Learn.
- RESILIENCE – You have to roll with the punches in business; that’s just kind of part of it. At the end of the day, you’re living the life that people won’t in order to live the life that people can’t, and the life that people won’t normally comes with really hard parts.
- BALANCE (keeping things in proper proportion) – When it comes to work/life balance, there’s no such thing as 50/50. It will inevitably fluctuate but all you can do is try your absolute best to keep tabs on it.
Any tips to share?
If you’re looking to enter the nonprofit world, here’s my advice. If you aren’t a people person, learn to be, or hire someone who is. This sector is 80% networking and relationships, period.
I’ll also share this lesson learned: I once severely bit off more than I could chew with a huge fundraising project and, while the project itself turned out great on the surface, financially it nearly put us out of business. The big lesson I learned from that was “Remain ambitious, but always make sure to ask the question “What do I NOT know that I DON’T know?” if that makes any sense.
I’ve also learned the best way to have a positive impact is to focus on people, in all aspects: recruitment, trust, training, incentivizing, etc.
Why Cowork Frederick?
The best thing about Cowork for me (and my organization) is accessibility. While we don’t use Cowork in a necessarily “conventional” manner, every time we consider getting our own brick & mortar office we instantly remember that Cowork has everything that we would ever want in an office space. A community of like-minded people, every office supply you could ever need, meeting rooms, snacks/coffee, networking opportunities, kitchen appliances, a downtown parking space, basement storage, a gazebo for God’s sake…. the list goes on. Cowork is Frederick’s best gem, and I’m glad to be within the “in” crowd.
Where can people find you?