The Founder's Fund

Moving the Apostrophe

Peace First has its origins in the work and vision of Francelia Butler who created the Peace Games Festival at the University of Connecticut. I was one of many students at Harvard who took Fran’s vision to launch the organization which has evolved, over the past thirty years, into Peace First. In essence, I was a co-founder.

There is something static and incomplete about the word “founding”; it is as if organizations emerge fully formed and imagined by brave innovators, ready to go. This mythology is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous in that it ignores the necessity of iterative design and it erases the contributions of so many different individuals over time.

founder's fund


The truth is that organizations – the more vibrant and responsive ones – are “founded” again and again in response to the evolving needs and changing dynamics of the worlds in which they operate. They are honed over time by scores of leaders, innovators, risk-takers, and contrarians who contribute a needed piece of the puzzle. The person who launches a new program or leads expansion to a new city, the funder who provides resources to an unproven idea, or the first group of young people to complete a program are all co-founders and creators of what Peace First is today. 


 Founders' Fund


The Founders Fund

As I enter my final stretch at Peace First, a group of long-term, committed funders have stepped forward to launch a Founders Fund to celebrate my three decades at Peace First and to set up the next team of Co-CEOs with resources critical for their success with a gift of $500,000.  

That’s right, half a million dollars to support this leadership transition.  A gift they are hoping others will match, leaving a million-dollar legacy to build the next chapter of Peace First. 

Once I stopped crying in gratitude for their generosity and foresight (I won’t lie, it has been an emotion-filled few months; saying goodbye has exhausted my tissue supply), I realized two things:

First, in addition to our amazing community of young innovators, terrific staff and global partners, Peace First has thrived due to a committed group of donors who have put their trust again and again in the hands of young people’s vision and skills.  To call this revolutionary would not be a stretch.  Far too few donors are willing to follow the lead of young people.

Second, the Founder’s Fund is exactly the right name for this collection of generosity.  But the apostrophe is in the wrong place. This isn’t a fund just to honor my 30 years but to honor 30 years’ worth of founders who have built Peace First into a global force for good.  Folks like David Wang, John King, and Michelle Brooks who were part of the initial team at Harvard.  Deb Glazer and Alice Green who helped launch and grow our first expansion office in Los Angeles. Bill Ackman who gave our first million-dollar grant to launch the Peace First Prize.  Our inaugural class of Peace First Fellows and Ambassadors who globalized our work ensuring youth coming to our community would be welcomed in their own language. I could go on and on.


It's time to move the apostrophe. Founder's Fund is the Founders' Fund.


This isn’t false modesty.  I am aware of my contributions and the importance of the past 30 years; I am equally aware of the contributions of so many more.  I also know how important it will be to support our incoming leaders.  The data on leaders who succeed founders – especially for leaders of color, younger leaders, and leaders based outside the US – is bleak if they are not well-supported in their transitions.  


How to Support the Founder Fund

We would appreciate your contribution to honor the FoundersFund. Your donation will go towards supporting Eric’s legacy as well as our new Co-CEOs and the next generation of Peace First Founders. 

Please visit this link to make a one-time or recurring donation to continue the work Eric set in motion over 30 years ago.

If you have questions or suggestions about the Founder Fund, please contact Reshini Premaratne, Development Officer, at

You can learn more about the many Peace First Founders by browsing our Founders Corner, our series of webisodes that showcase the many Founders who have been a key part of Peace First’s journey over the last 30 years. You can also use this space to upload your own Peace First founding story!