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Next Up Columbus 2022: Derek Wholihan

Derek Wholihan
Derek Wholihan

Photo courtesy of Derek Wholihan

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Derek Wholihan
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Age: 34
Profession: Community Relations Representative, City of Columbus
Neighborhood: Dublin
Education: Associate of Arts
Community Involvement: Keep America Beautiful Education Board
Quote: “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He who is the Daystar of Truth beareth me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” – Baháʼuʼlláh
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram

Give us a snapshot of your career path: My path has never been straight and narrow. It has been filled with ups, downs, and turnarounds. One thing that has always remained a constant is my undying urge to help others. In every position I have held, I have been a trainer, a listener, and worked to make the Earth a better place for everyone who lives on it.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
My cat, Jax, physically gets me up every morning with his multi-tonal “pay attention to me” serenade. In all seriousness, the ability to make people smile and do things for others really gets me going and keeps me going throughout the week. Knowing that I really enjoy what I do for a living and that I have an amazing support system helps a lot too.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
My mother has always been my number 1 cheerleader. She raised my sister and I all by herself and she always taught me to stand up for myself, chase my dreams, and be true to who I am. Other than my mother, I have always tried to surround myself with friends who lift me up and guide me in the right direction.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Two things really help me unwind after a stressful day. I either go on a hike at one of the amazing Metro Parks or I bake something delicious to snack on.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I always look forward to a fun evening at Pins in Dublin or spending time at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many things as a kid. i would say that two of them really stand out to me as a constant over those years. A professional singing astronaut and an archeologist.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I currently listen to two podcasts on the regular. Crime Junkie and Curiosity Daily. I just finished reading Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I am about to start reading Run Rose Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I honestly was completely shocked when I found out I was chosen to be recognized with the Next Up Columbus award. I am incredibly grateful that my contributions to Columbus are being recognized along so many other amazing individuals.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The “pulse” of Columbus is every single person who lives, works, and visits our great city. We keep the city growing, breathing, and thriving for each other and we can only make it better the more we all make it “beat.”


The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »

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