Doc Hendley

CNN Hero, Humanitarian, and Founder and President of Wine to Water

In-Person Fee Range
$10,001 to $20,000
(Inquire for virtual fee)

Travels From
North Carolina, United States

Founder of Wine to Water, Humanitarian, and CNN Hero

Doc Hendley is proof that anyone, even a tattooed keg-tapper, can cure what ails the world. He is a 2009 CNN Hero.  He is President/Founder of the organization Wine To Water  and is also a professional public speaker.

Making a Difference

Doc Hendley is the epitome of the individual who has made a difference. Tens of thousands of people around the world have clean drinking water they did not have before an idea popped into the head of this “tattooed keg-tapper” musician’s head. Hendley realized that just by using his ability to tend bar and create relationships with people, he might be able to help the problem. At the bars where he worked, he started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way he knew how, by pouring wine and playing music.


Hendley has taken personal risks to do the hard work of providing water and clean water education in far flung locations around the globe. He worked in dozens of refugee camps installing water systems for victims of Darfur’s government supported genocide. Often inside the United Nations’ dangerous “no-go” zones, he distributed water or chlorine tablets to people with only plastic sheeting for shelter.

CNN Hero

Hendley was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2009 (chosen from over 9,000 applicants by a panel of judges including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Turner and Sir Elton John).

Wine to Water Foundation

Today Hendley’s Wine to Water foundation aims to help the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean water. By using wine events to raise money and awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world, Doc Hendley has harnessed a powerful social force and multiplied the generosity of many.

Clean Drinking Water

Doc is, in essence, turning wine to water for some of the neediest people on  the planet for three simple reasons: 1. At least one in six people worldwide lack access to adequate amounts of safe water for drinking and hygiene, according to the UN.  2. Water borne illnesses kill far more children the HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined. 3. Unclean water contributes to diarrhea, the leading cause of illness and death, and translates to 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.


Doc did not dream of dedicating his life to humanitarian efforts in developing countries. Far from it, in fact. He graduated from NC State University with a communications degree he wasn’t sure how to use. While bartending to pay the bills, he noticed the men and women sitting on the stools seemed to want to be part of something bigger. The 30-year-old Hendley got inspired behind the bar, and today his nonprofit group, Wine to Water, has dug, repaired and sanitized drinking wells for 25,000 people in five Third World countries. It’s an idea that started with wine tastings and a humble donation jar.


Doc Hendley’s book, Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World (Avery:Penguin, January 2012), is a captivating story of an ordinary bartender who’s changing the world through clean water.

Hell or High Water: How One Man Turned Wine into Water & Transformed Customers into Crusaders

Doc Hendley was once a small-town bartender with a dream of changing the world through clean water. Through a series of simple wine-tasting events to raise funds for clean-water projects that he launched in North Carolina, he has created an international fundraising organization that provides clean water and sanitation to people in need around the world. In this speech, Hendley shares insights on how others can put simple ideas into action and use it to solve problems on the local, national, and international level.

Digging for Hope: Turning Wine to Water & Other Modern-Day Miracles

In this inspirational keynote, Wine To Water founder Doc Hendley teaches audiences a simple but profound principle for improving the world: do what they can with what they have. As the founder of an international fundraising organization that had humble origins, Hendley illustrates the immense power of relationships to transcend perceived barriers, proving the power of one to transform the impossible into the inevitable.

All Doc Hendley Books

A Drop in the Bucket
Purchase Book
Wine to Water: How One Man Saved Himself While Trying to Save the World
Purchase Book

I would like to add something to my previous review. I booked Doc, Christine Cashen, Laura Caldwell, and the Corps Group all from for ONE EVENT. See Agency was like a one-stop shop for my speaker needs. I collaborated with See Agency to create a themed event where each speaker emphasized a different facet of leadership for our school administrators. This brought added value for our participants. Working with See Agency's speakers (and leadership team) saved me time and energy when creating a powerful, meaningful conference.


Doc Hendley is setting a compelling example of the value of hard work and a vision to help others. He has taken a common place object and used it to mobilize communities in America to help suffering communities around the world. He is truly an exceptional North Carolinian and I want to praise him for his dedication to serving needy and suffering people. He has taken personal risks to do the hard work of providing water and clean water education in far flung locations around the globe.


His story is amazing and inspirational, yet a tad frightening at the beginning(Darfur!). His use of imagery really brings his spoken story to life for his audience. What a humble and genuine man -- for someone who has experienced and accomplished so much in the humanitarian field, his modesty is remarkable. In a room of hundreds of corporate executives and government and NGO officials, he easily captivated attention because his commitment to the cause is real, his passion is clear, and his speaker presence is engaging. It was a pleasure to get to talk to him more during the event reception, where Wine to Water wine was served.


There is one thing that rings true every time I get the pleasure of hearing Doc Hendley speak - his passion comes through and hits you like nothing you've ever experienced in your lifetime. It's not just the way he interacts with the audience, a sort of down home person that you seem to already know even though you don't, but it's the message about improving who we are as people each and every day, and helping those who have difficulty helping themselves because of places they live in or the circumstances of their country. Doc brings that message of hope and seems to naturally lift every person out of their comfort chair and into the wilds of Africa or the devastation in Haiti right alongside him. You feel everything that he feels and see everything that he saw. We are just enamored to be part of his world in a small way and hoping to work with him to better our world in a meaningful way.

- Rich Henning | UNITED WATER

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Recent Books

A Drop in the Bucket
Purchase Book
Wine to Water: How One Man Saved Himself While Trying to Save the World
Purchase Book

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