How PeaceJam Started

Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff co-founded the PeaceJam Foundation in February 1996.

Two years earlier Ivan had begun talking to gang members in his neighbourhood in north Denver, USA. He discovered that these gun-toting young men not only knew who Archbishop Desmond Tutu was, but they also deeply admired him and appreciated his non-violent efforts toward social change. Ivan then realised the power of connecting disaffected youngsters with Nobel Peace Laureates as role models for positive change.

He contacted Dawn Engle, who had met the Dalai Lama during her years working for the US Congress, where she lobbied on behalf of the Tibetan cause. Dawn and Ivan were granted an audience with His Holiness, who liked the idea so much that he invited his fellow Peace Laureates to join this new youth-focussed peace education initiative. PeaceJam worked with the Laureates to provide the educational materials and events to inspire and motivate young people from 5-25.

Ten Nobel Peace Laureates have so far nominated the PeaceJam Foundation for the Nobel Peace Prize.