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Peter Rios | Educator, Speaker & Leadership Coach

We are delighted to introduce Dr. Peter Rios, a renowned bilingual speaker, organizational consultant, and leadership coach. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Rios has collaborated with esteemed institutions such as Harvard University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and has lectured at Penn State, Colorado State, and the Pacific School of Religion at Berkeley. Together with his spouse, Dr. Ruby Gonzalez-Rios, he is committed to empowering individuals to lead healthy, fulfilled lives. After overcoming early trauma, he embarked on a transformative journey of healing and self-discovery, which ignited his passion for living a life of service, maximizing life's potential, and helping the community.

Read his story.

Photo Credit: Dr. Peter Rios
Photo Credit: Dr. Peter Rios

What is the right way to live?

I am reminded of Martin Luther King (MLK), Jr., in a message he delivered about the “Drum Major Instinct (DMI).” A drum major is a person who leads a marching band and provides direction to them. MLK said that every human had the DMI within them (that is to be a leader, be out front, or desire to be first), but most times was channeled incorrectly. MLK referenced some other leaders in this discourse who at one point wanted to be privileged by getting two special seats next to a king, one on the left side and on the right. You see, they wanted to be first or noticed, but not for the right reasons—their intentions were not pure. 

MLK goes on to state that we should desire to be first or in front like the drum major, but especially in service to others. Reflecting upon his own life, MLK declared that he didn’t want to be known for the many accolades and recognition he had obtained throughout his lifetime like the Noble Prize. But he wanted to be known for being the first in giving love to others, for serving humanity, and empowering others—especially those who could not get it on their own. I think this is the best way to live; to live a life of service to others especially those that are particularly vulnerable. It is in this type of living that we truly find fulfillment and happiness. In a life of service there is fulfillment, joy, peace, and much delight. For more inspirational examples, look up Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. 

What is one thing that inspires you?

I am inspired by inspiring others to maximize their lives! As a professional speaker, I get the unique opportunity to talk to a multitude of people from diverse organizations and industries. I’m mostly brought in to motivate, encourage or inspire the audience through my story telling. Therefore, I take advantage of this time by being very vulnerable and transparent about my own setbacks and failures like hitting an emotional rock bottom, overcoming addictions, and failing community college three times. Yes, three times! But how through mentorship, education, faith and resiliency and the desire to become better, I now hold two doctoral degrees and have helped thousands of people. It’s amazing how much people can overcome if they don’t quit and reach out for some help. 

Photo Credit: Dr. Peter Rios
Photo Credit: Dr. Peter Rios

One of these amazing opportunities was a recent visit to a school on the friendly Island of St. Maarten. I was able to speak to 12th graders about pursuing their dreams and goals, and how they could maximize their lives even at an early age. By the way, you are never “too young or too mature” to maximize your life—there is always another level of improvement to attain. These young people were also very encouraging to me with their engagement and questions, and I will always cherish the positive feedback I received from their teacher.

Dr. Peter Rios with his wife
Dr. Peter Rios with his wife

What is your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is coming soon in July of 2024, which is being married for 12 years to my life partner and best friend, Dr. Ruby Gonzalez-Rios. Ruby has been such an amazing partner and spouse, and confidant. We have traveled the world and supported each other through many successes, but also through many difficulties as well. She has empowered, coached, and mentored me with much grace and love. And for me, this relationship is by far the most rewarding and life giving. Anyone who is married would agree that a healthy relationship is very fulfilling, but not easy. Together, Ruby and I are working on developing each other to become the best version of ourselves. Hence, I take pride in building a healthy, sustaining, and gratifying relationship with my wife Ruby ☺ 

How did you help your community this year?

I have the amazing privilege to serve on the board of directors for the Association for Hispanic Theological Education (AETH). “We are dedicated to the promotion and improvement of theological education and its impact on the lives of individuals, churches, and communities. AETH is a network of people and institutions that since 1992, works in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and more recently in Latin America and the Caribbean.” This partnership is very important to me because a large segment of the Latinx/Hispanic community in the U.S. is religious. And being an educator myself, I know the power and liberative aspects of a quality education can not only bring a person or leader, but also the community they lead. As Paulo Freire once said, "Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.” So, I volunteer my time, talents, and resources to this board to help empower our faith and religious affiliated communities to do their best by their people through education, service, and leadership. You can learn more about AETH at 

Photo credit: Peter Rios
Photo credit: Peter Rios

What is one industry book that a newcomer must read?

There are many books that I could recommend, but I’ll have to be bold and say that it’s my newest book, “Maximize! 12 Keys to Unlocking Your Greatest Potential.” I was tired of seeing so many gifted and talented people living well below their full potential, so I wrote Maximize to encourage people to follow their dreams. 

I once heard someone say that the richest place on earth are cemeteries because so many people die without realizing their fullest potential. In other words, many leave us, but never write the book, become the entrepreneur or public leader, or whatever dream that they had within them is snuffed out because of fear, excuses or even comfortability in mediocrity. So, the moral of the story is “die empty and not full.” Leave earth knowing that you have achieved and given as much as possible of yourself to the world with the resources, gifts, and talents you were entrusted with. It is our responsibility to become our best so that we can serve society in the most robust way possible. I want to die empty! And my new book, Maximize, is a blueprint of how I have achieved some level of success and have become a better me, and how it can help you do the same or better. 


For details, please visit Dr. Rios' website

To check out his books, visit this Amazon Page.


1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us. Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.

In June 2023, recognized 1000 Spotlights as one of the top motivational blogs on the web. This magazine is committed to featuring individuals who are making a positive impact, without any pay-to-play agenda. Write to us to nominate someone exceptional who is making a difference in extraordinary ways.


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