Dr. James Darren Key

Dr. James Darren Key is a dynamic leader, inspirational public speaker and Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) in the United States Army. He is a commentator on race, politics, relationships, honor, and faith. His writing and commentary have been featured in a number of different outlets, including USA Today, National Public Radio, Spectrum News, American Forces Network (AFN) Korea, and military publications.

His thought-provoking lectures, seminars, workshops, and animated stories and lessons have motivated hundreds of people to not only make vital changes in their life but energized them to develop a strategy to reach important goals and fulfill their overall purpose in life.

Dr. Key is a highly sought after speaker throughout the country and his message of hope and inspiration is easily accessible to people from all walks of life such as the community leader, the teacher, the corporate executive, the soldier, the student, the athlete, the parent, the teenager, the rich and the poor – all those who desire to have a meaningful life, for themselves and for others.

He is a leader who speaks candidly about weaknesses and fears and empowers you to:

  • Recognize failures and successes along your journey;
  • Approach race and diversity with sensitivity and courage;
  • Heal from unhealthy relationships before you start a new one;
  • Identify and overcome the “touch-and-go” moments of life;
  • Face trials and controversy with unshakable faith.

He is the author of a #1 new release book in inspiration and spirituality entitled A Long Way from Crenshaw: Lessons and Stories about Race, Love, Honor, and Faith for These Changing Times (Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan). His previous book is entitled Touch and Go: From the Streets of South Central Los Angeles to the War in Iraq (Eloquent Books).

Recently, he was selected by U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office to participate in a Strategic Leader Fellowship. The program for Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonels examined means of strengthening strategic leadership skills, and enhancing capabilities for the Chaplain Corps.

Dr. Key is a former staff member for Rep. Sander Levin (Michigan) and Rep. Maxine Waters (California). In this capacity he effectively responded to constituent inquires; managed the operational budget; coordinated and supervised the internship program; tracked and monitored legislation involving civil rights, human rights, transportation, and foreign affairs; and coordinated, workshops, briefings, and strategic meetings. After a successful tenure on Capitol Hill, he assumed the leadership position of Executive Director of Sojourners Neighborhood Center, a religious-based non-profit youth empowerment organization in Washington, D.C., and Senior Pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church in Smithfield, Virginia.
His military schooling and leadership training includes the Command and General Staff Officer Course, Brigade Chaplain Course, Advanced Civil Schooling Program (World Religions), Chaplain Captain Career Course, and the Chaplain Officer Basic Course.

His military assignments are as follows: 530th Supply and Service Support Battalion Chaplain, Fort Bragg, NC; 530 Logistic Task Force Chaplain, Baghdad, Iraq; Observer Controller/Trainer at the Army National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA; Chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery; Regimental Chaplain, 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, VA; Operations and World Religions Chaplain, Yongsan, South Korea; Senior Chaplain for the U.S. Northeast Chaplain Recruiting Center; 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade Chaplain, Fort Drum, NY; Regimental Chaplain at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA., and The 1st Infantry Division Chaplain, Fort Riley, KS.

His military awards exemplify dedication and unyielding leadership to our nation:

  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Order of Titus

Dr. Key is a committed leader who has been the recipient of the Los Angeles NAACP Men of Valor Award, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Military Hero of the Game, and Outstanding Graduate Award (Pan-African Studies Department, California State University, Northridge). And as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc. he served as the Western Regional: Assistant Vice President; College Brother of the Year, and Oratorical Contest Winner.

Dr. Key was called into ministry while working as a Sales Representative in Southern California for Johnson and Johnson Baby Company. He was ordained at Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California through the Ordination Leadership Council of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and the American Baptist Churches, USA. He earned his doctor of ministry in politics and religion and master of divinity degrees from Howard University School of Divinity; a master of theology in world religions from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of arts in speech communication from California State University, Northridge.


  • Politics and religion
  • 6 Essential qualities that define leadership
  • Political advocacy and the black church
  • How to build healthy relationships
  • Race and culture
  • World religions and the face of the other
  • Evil and suffering
  • Stress management
  • Failure and resiliency
  • Communication studies
  • Survey of the old and new testament
  • African presence in the Bible
  • Black history and unknown heroes
  • Self-empowerment
  • Community engagement
  • Full circle ministry
  • Honor and service
  • Biblical leadership


Award & Certification