Derek began the practice and study of Buddhism in 1976 under the guidance of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He received a B.A. from Harvard College focusing in Buddhism, and also studied with other leading dharma teachers, primarily Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. In 2009, he co-founded and continues to co-lead Westchester Buddhist Center, which is dedicated to the unique tradition of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He has been teaching Buddhism since 1981.