passionate magazine
Patrick Riccards

Patrick Riccards

President & CEO, Driving Force Institute.

In the education field, creative learning processes serve as catalysts for student engagement and holistic development. Creative learning empowers students to become not just knowledgeable individuals but also critical thinkers and innovative contributors to their communities. Patrick Riccards is a dedicated professional in the education and historical content creation fields. As the CEO of the Driving Force Institute, he is committed to transforming the teaching and learning of American history through innovative approaches, particularly short-form films. Through his endeavors, he contributes to shaping a more informed and inspired generation of learners.

Professional Journey: From Capitol Hill to Driving Force Institute

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Patrick, the President & CEO of Driving Force Institute, had envisioned a future in law school. Interning on Capitol Hill for three summers during college exposed him to the political realm, and a significant turning point occurred when he was offered the role of acting press secretary for the U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (WV). The decision to forego law school marked the beginning of a different path, one that would shape his professional journey in unexpected ways.

Exiting the political arena, Patrick got into consulting, taking charge of national public engagement campaigns for diverse entities such as the federal government, corporations, and non-profit organizations. It was within this consultancy landscape that his interest in social change was ignited. He was drawn to the challenge of establishing new organizations and revitalizing those with commendable missions and operational struggles.

This path of pursuing social impact through organizational development may not be universally applicable, but it resonates deeply with Patrick. His journey shows how political experience and public engagement can turn into tangible efforts for social betterment. As the driving force behind the Driving Force Institute, Patrick continues to run his career with a focus on impactful change and organizational resilience.

A Social Entrepreneur’s Pursuit of Change and Continuous Improvement

Drawing inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt’s call to “dare mighty things,” Patrick embodies a daily commitment to bold actions. Identifying himself as a builder, fixer, innovator, and dreamer, he infuses these qualities into every undertaking. His approach focuses on belief in industrious effort propelled by a well-defined mission. Never one to rest on accomplishments, Patrick remains unsatisfied, continuously seeking avenues for improvement and advancement.

Patrick’s journey represents the world where simplicity meets purpose with a consistent dedication to making a meaningful impact. Whether constructing new initiatives, addressing challenges, introducing innovations, or nurturing visionary ideas, he brings a steadfast work ethic to his endeavors.

Commitment to Truth in History Education

In the contemporary landscape, history usually comes with controversy, messiness, and darkness. At the Driving Force Institute, Patrick stands apart by embracing this reality instead of shying away from it. He recognizes the desire of learners for unfiltered truthcaters—the chance to judge for themselves and to see their ideals and priorities reflected in the history they learn. This pursuit demands a level of honesty often absent from traditional history textbooks.

In the films produced by the Driving Force Institute, content intentionally stirs emotions, both delightful and frustrating. This caters to individuals across the ideological spectrum. This deliberate approach resonates with the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, whose words guide the institute’s philosophy: “We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

Patrick emphasizes that the institute is not just imparting historical facts but fostering critical thinking. The essence lies in equipping learners with the tools to discern and challenge errors. In a world where historical narratives can be polarizing, the Driving Force Institute encourages a thoughtful exploration of the past. It empowers learners to engage with history in a reflective manner, marking Patrick’s distinct contribution to the realm of history education.

Transforming Education: The Driving Force Institute’s Film Endeavor

Driving Force Institute stands out with its mission to revolutionize teaching and learning through thought-provoking short-form films. The institute’s focus lies in narrating compelling stories of people, places, events, and artifacts often overlooked in traditional textbooks but deemed pertinent to today’s learners. In a span of less than four years, the institute has successfully crafted over 500 films, forming valuable partnerships with esteemed organizations like the New York Historical Society, American Battlefield Trust, White House Historical Association, Smithsonian, and the Bill of Rights Institute.

Through strategic alliances with partners and distributors, Driving Force Institute has achieved widespread reach, connecting with over 45 million users. The acclaim from these users is threefold – finding the films interesting, entertaining, and educational. This showcases the institute’s ability to strike a balance between engaging storytelling and educational value.

Shaping Long-Term Learning Goals

In the expansive landscape of educational tools, the Driving Force Institute distinguishes itself not as the pioneer in using video for teaching, but rather for deploying it in distinctive ways. Recognizing the significance of history in fostering critical thinking and cognitive learning, Driving Force Institute (DFI) is committed to making history engaging and relevant for all learners. In Patrick’s vision, history is the key to improvement, both as learners and as responsible citizens contributing to a cohesive society. The institute aims to breathe life into historical narratives, instilling in learners a genuine appreciation for the subject. With each film produced, the institute aims to cultivate a mindset akin to that of historians, encouraging everyone to view history not merely as a subject but as a dynamic and evolving narrative that shapes our understanding of the world. In aligning with the preferences of the modern learner, DFI’s approach to history education reflects a long-term commitment to fostering a society that values and engages with its past.

Driving Force Institute’s Ongoing Initiatives: Shaping American History Education

Having dedicated efforts to untold facets of American history, the institute is aiming towards the essentials as the United States approaches its 250th birthday in 2026. In collaboration with esteemed organizations like the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and producing partner Makematic, Driving Force Institute embarks on a monumental endeavor to create a 500-film series delving into the must-knows of American history. This ambitious project is conceived as a gift to the nation and aims to provide a comprehensive and accessible resource for learners of all ages.

Adding another dimension to their contributions, the institute recently published its inaugural book titled “Why History Matters: American History Educators Speak Out.” The book is a compilation of essays penned by teachers across the United States who share their classroom experiences with effective history education. These narratives are a source of inspiration, offering best practices to educators and emphasizing the importance of history in the learning journey.

Family and Inspirations: The Driving Force Behind His Work

In the heart of Patrick’s journey as a social entrepreneur lies a deep inspiration drawn from his family and a circle of influential supporters.

Rooted in a lineage of educators, Patrick’s parents imparted valuable lessons that continue to shape his daily pursuits. Their commitment to education is evident in Patrick’s work, fueling his dedication to societal improvement and empowerment. At the core of Patrick’s support system is his wife who is a constant source of encouragement and grace, providing the foundation for him to chase dreams and endeavor to achieve the seemingly impossible. However, it is Patrick’s children who are his primary motivation. As a social entrepreneur driven by a passion for societal betterment, each new project is measured against the question: Will this contribute to a better world for his children and those who follow?

Beyond family, Patrick finds inspiration in the network of individuals who have played pivotal roles in his journey. Among them, Walter W. Buckley, Jr., is like a champion who continues to provide guidance and support. Additionally, Arthur Levine as the professional mentor contributes to the foundation upon which Patrick has built his impactful work.

Noteworthy Achievements: A Journey of Recognition

Patrick and the Driving Force Institute have garnered notable achievements over the past year. Collaborating with the American Battlefield Trust, their films got two Silver Telly Awards, due to the impactful storytelling and visual appeal of their productions. This recognition, bestowed by industry professionals showcases the quality of the content produced in partnership with the American Battlefield Trust.

More recently, Patrick’s collective work at Driving Force Institute was honored with five Shorty Awards during the fall season. This recognition, coming from the Shorty Awards platform, acknowledges excellence in social media and digital content creation. It affirms the institute’s adeptness at engaging audiences and creating content that resonates in the digital landscape. The Driving Force Institute was noticed by the American Consortium for Equity in Education and awarded them the Excellence in Equity Award for Best Nonprofit Organization. The Untold History series produced by the institute achieved distinction as a Top Digital Tool, as recognized by the American Association of School Librarians.

However, for Patrick, the most notable recognition is the significant milestone of reaching over 45 million people watching the institute’s film content. This widespread viewership is the ultimate metric of progress and success, indicating the impactful reach of the Driving Force Institute in shaping historical education for a diverse audience. In each accolade and milestone, Patrick finds validation for the institute’s commitment to making history accessible and engaging for learners nationwide.

Advice on Leadership: Embrace Dreams, Value Learning, Lead with Purpose

For Patrick, success isn’t a destination but a mindset and an ongoing journey. The path forward is made with the understanding that success isn’t the end but a continuous process. To him, failure holds immeasurable value, provided it is acknowledged, learned from, and applied in subsequent endeavors. He gives valuable advice rooted in the wisdom of a mentor: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This simple yet profound notion has been his guiding principle throughout his journey as an aspiring leader. For him, the pursuit of goals requires a willingness to undertake any task, recognizing that no responsibility is beneath a leader. This is grounded in the belief that leaders should be willing to do anything they ask of their team. It’s a principle that shows the importance of leading by example and fostering a culture of shared commitment and collaboration.

Central to Patrick’s leadership philosophy is the understanding that leadership is fundamentally about the team, not about owning authority as a boss. He advocates for a distinction between being a leader and being a “boss,” emphasizing the importance of aspiring to lead, motivate, inspire, and achieve collectively. Leaders, in his view, must possess a clear understanding of their beliefs and continuously assess their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, he stresses the need for leaders to cultivate a team that questions and challenges, fostering an environment of constant growth and improvement. If a leader cannot articulate the “why” behind their decisions and actions, Patrick contends that they do not deserve to lead. This fundamental emphasis on purpose, shared commitment, and continuous learning shapes Patrick’s advice on effective leadership.


  1. “Driving Force Institute, under Patrick’s leadership, is a driving force for social change, harnessing the power of films to reshape the teaching and learning of American history.”
  1. “I’ve come to realize that success isn’t a destination but the continuous journey of learning from failures, daring mighty things, and steering towards a brighter, more informed future.”
  1. “Patrick’s leadership style transcends mere authority. It emphasizes a shared commitment, motivation, and inspiration to collectively achieve impactful change.”